UH SBDCUH SBDCUH SBDCUH SBDC
What PTAC Offers Who Makes a Good PTAC Client PTAC Events Calendar Apply as a Client

Marketing to the Government 

Government Marketing Tips

  • Market selectively - Although there are hundreds of governmental agencies you could contact to market your product or services, we recommend that you target 6 agencies as a beginning goal. Approach a smaller piece of the governmental marketplace, but do a thorough job in marketing to these selected agencies. The University of Houston Procurement Technical Assistance Center can assist you in targeting agencies that procure what your company sells. 
  • Market knowledgeably - It is important that you know the rules under which your customer buys. 
  • Market constructively - Don’t market with chip on your shoulder (i.e. the government owes me something). Promote your company’s capabilities while stressing that you can meet the government agency’s needs and assist them in meeting any goals (i.e. small business set-asides, woman owned set-asides, and/or disadvantaged business set-asides). 
  • Market early - If at all possible, market your company to your targeted 6 agencies prior to a bid or solicitation hitting the street (being let publicly).  
  • Market timely - Keep your company name and capabilities before the buyer. We recommend that you contact the buyer (probably by phone) at least once a month. Identify yourself and give a brief description of your company capabilities. Let the buyer know you are phoning just to touch base and see if you could help him in any way.  
  • Market continually -    We feel that the best possible means of marketing your company is a personal visit to the buying agency. Always phone to set up a meeting with the buyer prior to your arrival. Buyers do not like surprise visits. In addition to a personal visit, follow up with the buyer by forwarding your company's brochures and flyers. The ticket is continual communication with the buyer so that when a purchase requisition crosses his desk, he remembers your company and forwards you an opportunity to bid.

Protocol in Dealing with Contracting Officers and Purchasing Agents

  • Remember they are humans too. It is common for buyers to have tons of “to do” items to handle on a daily basic. Respect their time. Figure out a way to bring a smile to their face (they really do not totally enjoy drowning in all that paper and those purchasing rules and regulations). Keep your conversation and attitude on a positive note when dealing with a purchasing agent.
  • Treat them with respect. Again respect their time. Be punctual and organized during your presentation. Have something worthwhile to say and say it in a “well thought-out” and planned manner. Always thank the buyer for their time and attention.
  • Be brief, courteous and to the point. Identify yourself and your company’s capabilities in a kind and courteous manner.
  • Identify what makes you unique from your competitors. Develop a theme (e.g., something that will stick in the buyer’s mind about you). Some possible themes deal with customer satisfaction, technical experience, managerial expertise, past performance, quality, etc.
  • Develop a one-minute sales pitch. Often you may only have one minute to grasp the buyers' attention, identify yourself, and promote your company. Practice a one-minute dialogue that becomes natural for you.
  • Get the buyer to respond favorably to you. Begin your request with “Is it unreasonable for me to ask….” This phrase grabs a person’s attention and curiosity. They begin to wonder just what you are going to ask next. Also it is a person’s basic nature to help if they possibly can. You will be amazed at the positive response you will get if you begin your request with this particular phrase. According to Heidelberg, “Nature does not reveal its secrets; it only responds to a method of questioning.”   Make sure you do everything in your power to set the mood for a person to want to respond favorably to you.
  • Promote your experience. If you have completed a government contract (local, state, or federal), make sure the buyer knows it. A buyer will begin to feel more comfortable with the fact that you know the governmental purchasing process.
  • Don’t hide problems from buyer. If a problem develops, phone the buyer and give them a “heads-up.” Buyers answer to supervisors. They would prefer to appear pro-active rather than reactive to their supervisors. Buyers would prefer to be aware of the problem and even assist you with the solution rather than be surprised. Buyers do not like surprises.
  • A buyer wants to know (at most) four things about you and your company:
      1. Company name and contact information
      2. Whether you have completed government contracts in the past 
      3. Whether you are a small, woman-owned, or small disadvantaged business 
      4. Whether you can meet any of his needs

 

Some DO’s and DON’TS When Working with Purchasing Agents

As presented by Marlon Browning, Purchasing Manager, Blue Cross Blue Shield of LA

DO’s

1.     Do call in advance to make an appointment. It is difficult these days to drop in on Purchasing Agents in hope of seeing them when you arrive.

2.     Do bring with you or leave at front desk information about your company. Explain what your company does (on company letterhead) and list any references you may have.

3.     Do PERSIST. Make periodic phone calls to the Purchasing Agent and send information periodically. Sometimes timing can be on your side by keeping your name and the name of your company in front of the Purchasing Agent.

4.     Be HONEST with delivery date promises that you may make to a Purchasing Agent. Do not promise two days if you know it will take four. Be up front and honest from the outset. Purchasing Agents do not like surprises!

5.     Be CONFIDENT in yourself. Do not be intimidated by a large company. Sell yourself and your product. If you have confidence in what you sell, let it show.

 

DON’TS

1.      Don’t drop in unannounced.

2.      Don’t promise unrealistic or exaggerated delivery dates.

3.      Don’t make excuses for service problems once you start working with a company. Solve the problem and especially keep the Purchasing Agent constantly informed on any orders that may be running late.

4.      Don’t speak evil of competitors.

5.      Don’t surprise a Purchasing Agent by substituting items for items he feels he is getting unless you inform him first. Do not assume it is okay to substitute items other than the ones agreed to originally.