Alternative Ways to Sell to the Government Part 3: GSA/State Schedule and Simplified Quotes
This is the final part of a three-part series of alternative ways to sell to the government outside of the bid/RFP process. Today we are discussing GSA/state schedules and the simplified quoting process.
One of the most widely utilized ways agencies avoid the RFP process is to purchase things off a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule or state schedule.
The GSA has a series of contracts or schedules with commodity items that they offer to government agencies. An agency can go buy off the schedule at a set price. These contracts are groups — for example, all office supplies or all computer products will be on the same contract. What you want to do, if you sell these commodity items, is get on your industry’s GSA contract.
Every 90 days or so, you’ll have the ability to enter your product or service to the schedule. Naturally, the GSA will take the time to vet you, make sure you’re a worthy company, but you’ll be placed on the schedule if everything works out. Once that happens, an agency can purchase something from your company in just a day or two.
The state schedule follows a similar process. Once you’re on the schedule, your state will have your product at a set price, and agencies can purchase what they need without all the fuss of a bid/RFP. If your company has an online store, the entire procurement can happen digitally! An agency can go online, find the state or GSA schedule, and purchase the item from your store.
Again, in just a few days, you could win a government contract.
There are some drawbacks, of course, because the application process is lengthy. You’ll need to be dedicated to it. Plus, once your product is on the schedule, you need to be comfortable that it’s available to all government agencies at that set rate. You will want to make sure your cost is one you feel very certain about. Once you know the ins-and-outs, becoming a regular part of the GSA/state schedule can significantly increase your GovSales.
Another one of the growing ways the government agencies are utilizing to avoid the bid RFP process is the simplified quoting process, also known as a Request for Quote (RFQ). It’s typically used when an agency has an immediate need for something and/or when they’re looking to purchase a very simple product or service that can be described succinctly. For example, they’re going to buy a phone, a chair, or some computers — nothing that needs excessive detail or planning.
Buyers will request what’s called a simplified quote. They’ll either do this online, using an eQuote tool (like GovQuote) or do things the old-fashioned way and fax/email their request to suppliers they know. They’ll wait until they have between three and 10 quotes, choose the best once, and submit a purchase order to the winning company.
The simplified quoting process allows them to avoid the bid/RFP process, which can drag on for 6–9 months or longer. Instead, they’ll have what they need within two to three weeks. An important part of this process is if they can describe what they need very succinctly so there doesn’t need to be any discussion, very little evaluation, mostly commodity items.
This helps the agency because it allows them to buy quickly… which means you can often get paid very quickly.
The catch is, you’ll need to find the rules and regulations for any agency you’d like to do business with, as the RFQ process varies agency to agency. It can be very different, say, for the city of New York than it may be for the city of San Francisco and Miami Dade County. When you’re dealing with an agency, you should ask them, “Do you have a simplified quoting process that we could be participating in?” Show your interest in doing business with them. Learn the process. Make money.
Now that we have gone through the alternative ways to avoid the complex bid/RFP process I hope you will utilize these methods. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need more information on any of these processes. I am here to help you be the best GovSales representative you can be.