How To Win Federal Contracts: Dive Into Contract Data!

Get into the swim of how and why you can use free, open-source competitive market intelligence , and bring back the wins you want. These lively lessons share unique insight into how to tap that data to open up the relationships you need to succeed. 

When my team and I do our research into past federal contract data for our clients, we often talk about “data dips” or “data dives.” There’s a sea of free (and paid) competitive intelligence, and it’s easy to get lost. And…life shouldn’t be all work. Sometimes, all that talk of data diving leaves me daydreaming about another one of my passions, scuba diving. 

The two kinds of dives have more in common than you’d imagine! And besides, if your efforts in federal contracting bring you the success you want, I hope you get to go on the adventures of your dreams.

So, I thought I’d lighten the tone a bit to share a few practical tips from a unique viewpoint. Ever feel like you’re drowning in data? With the right attitude and gear, you can dive in and discover a whole lot  underwater!

Whether your business is small or large, take a moment for a fresh way to look at the serious business of how to win more Federal contracts.  When you master that data, you uncover the stories of your Federal buyers, as well as how they behave, who they like, and more. That understanding leads to deep conversations with Federal humans who can open — or close — the door to the business you want to win.

Federal contract award data reveals the details of billions of dollars in contract awards. That data also includes leads, often in plain sight, that point the way to both opportunities as well as the very people who draft the requirements and award the work.

All that data might give you the impression that this business is easy to find and win. Most entrepreneurs discover quickly that it’s not. But take heart! I created these videos to inspire you to take a closer look at how that data can be a power tool, drilling down to the precise players at every layer who you’ll need to meet to succeed.

Data Diving: Bring A Buddy

Researching Federal business? Bring a friend. Not a teaming partner, but a data diving buddy! Trust me, it’s easy to get lost. It’s great to have somebody else to ask, “Hey, are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Decide together when you’ve had enough and stick to it. Notice when things get tough: that can be a sign to stop and take stock. Take a break, see what’s going on. Assess, see what the right way forward is. 

Respect Your Research Limits

There’s nothing “usual” about being underwater if you’re human…and nothing “usual” about doing business in the Federal sea, either. There are risks. When we dive in, we’re taking the responsibility to know what we’re doing, keep learning, pay attention…and stay safe. Here’s a lesson I learned on a dive that you might realize you need in the middle of that you thought was an average day in govcon. Sometimes we can be trying so hard to find the answer that we get lost and frustrated. It’s okay to stop, regroup, and make a fresh start another day.

Map Your Federal Ecosystem

When you’re Federal data diving, look at how the stories in the data reflect an ecosystem.  Everything and everyone has a role, from the big huge galumphing contracts to tiny micro-purchases. The players at all the layers in the Federal ocean depend on each other: buyers, sellers, vehicles, habitat: none of them exists in isolation. The coral needs the fish. Apex predators need the little guys. Watch for elegant and surprising partnerships, too!

When And Why To Hire A Federal Data Diving Guide!

Why would you want a guide when you’re doing Federal market research? Same kind of reasons why you’d want a guide when you’re scuba diving! An experienced guide can point out things you might overlook — because these life forms are well-adapted to hide from predators (sound like your part of the Federal ocean?). And as you’re going along, an experienced guide can help you interpret the surprising and unpredictable, too!

Data Diving: Why A Dive Plan

A strong plan makes the best use of precious resources. When you’re doing Federal data diving, that resource is your time. Know where you want to go, how you’re going to get there, what you’re looking for, and the navigation points and signs you expect to guide you along the way. Then when you find surprises, you can get back on track, come back with what you set out looking for, and a whole lot more.

Look for Opportunity Close To Home

This one’s about how much business might be right in your neighborhood! Building relationships with people in federal agencies in cities where you already know people in your industry, where you already have clients and contact, is smart as well as cost-effective. Look in the data for opportunities “close to shore”, then try again and see what else is a little further out. Build your powers of observation and data diving skills in familiar waters, so you feel comfortable when you’re going deeper and further. And expect to do multiple dives, multiple data dips, every time.

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