is time for GSA to move ahead announce a new nationally-scoped training and
The agency is not only harming its customers, but its contractors and
itself by continuing a years-long exercise of introspective naval gazing on
this issue. Nothing speaks louder than
the facts, so here are a few that should make the decision to hold such an even
an open and shut case.
Demand for Training: It’s been over 2 years since GSA
held a specialized show in Huntsville, Alabama to train DOD users on how to
properly use GSA Schedule and other contracts.
Those sessions were totally sold out, with thousands receiving the
training they needed to make sound, correct acquisition decisions. GSA has ramped up its on-line training
considerably for both government and industry.
The demand for training has likely never been higher. With the Air Force, DHS, and other agencies
scrapping their own contracts in favor of GSA-based vehicles, demand for
training will only accelerate. In-person
training creates relationships and offers better opportunities for interaction
than the most sophisticated on-line tools allow. Even in this age of technology, there is
sometimes no substitute for actually being there, especially when it comes to
greeting new customers.
a Thousand New Schedule Contract Holders: A conservative estimate is that well over
1,000 companies are new to the Schedules program since the last GSA Expo was
held. We’ve taught a lot of Schedule
training classes recently and, when asked whether they ever attended an Expo,
approximately 90% of the class did not know what that was. There are new people who need training on the
industry side, in addition to the government.
As one our recent students put it, “we don’t know what we don’t know”
Contracts, Solutions, and Technology: Those new contractors brought new solutions
with them. GSA has created dozens of new
Special Item Numbers that either offer new solutions that didn’t previously
exist or were difficult to find. Outside
the Schedules, the last time the agency held a show there was no OASIS program,
no EIS telecommunications contract, and an Alliant program that is nothing like
what it is now. Without a show, GSA’s
customers may well believe that there is nothing new to see. That’s a little like a car dealer still promoting
its 2012 line-up.
GSA leaders were reportedly considering a show for
2019, but got cold feet. The
time to launch a show for 2020 is right now. GSA Administrator Emily Murphy commands
substantial respect, even though she was buffeted by Congressional oversight
committees last week. She has a
tremendous opportunity to lead the agency forward and not let the past define
the agency’s future. Indeed, failing to
act now opens the agency to future allegations that it is not doing enough to
ensure that customers and contractors know how to effectively do business with
Despite overall uncertainty of exactly where defense money would be
allocated under the President’s FY’20 budget request released last week, Pentagon
officials did allows that their agency would receive $9.6 billion in cyber
funding – $1 billion more than this year. The money would go toward not only hardware and software, but
also toward the construction of new buildings to house DOD’s increasing cyber
infrastructure. In fact, nearly 20% of
“cyber” money would be for construction.
Beyond that, over $500 million would go to support Cyber Command headquarters with
“some” of the remaining funds to be targeted at R&D for both offensive and
defensive cyber capabilities.
While CYBERCOM will fall short of their original FY’19 goal of spending
$75 million through non-traditional procurement methods, CYBERCOM chief General
Paul Nakasone predicted that his organization will come fairly close to that
target and will continue to make expanded use of innovative acquisition
techniques such as Other Transaction Authority. General Nakasone stated that CYBERCOM needs
such flexible tools in order to meet the changing face of threats. “We invested in tools—significant
tools for how we operate with our teams”, he said. “Secondly, big data
analysis. Thirdly, an opportunity for our developers to operate offsite
at a facility to look at new networks, new capabilities, new
infrastructures.” Cyber spending
continues to soar, both in DOD and civilian agencies. Make sure your company is prepared to meet
Getting a face-to-face meeting with a prime government prospect isn’t always easy. There’s only so much time on anyone’s calendar and not all of it can be allotted to contractor meetings. Once you have the meeting scheduled, here are three tips to give you the best chance for success:
1. Be Prepared to Listen: While you certainly want to make sure you talk about your great solutions, asking questions and listening first can help you shape what you say so that it’s of greater interest to your government contact. Speak first and run the risk of missing key points or, worse, saying something that might annoy your prospect.
2. Know Who You’re Talking To: Are you meeting with a technical person, program manager, acquisition specialist or someone else? It’s important to know beforehand so that you can tailor your message to the appropriate audience. Techies like to get specific, but so too do acquisition professionals who want to know how to get your solution, not just what it does. Similarly, if you’re there to make a high level presentation and a tech person is in the meeting, you want to make sure that you have the right tech person from your side to match.
3. Follow Up: You had a great meeting and the prospect is interested. That’s what you want. Next week, though, you’re scheduled to be at a conference. Make sure you take time to call or e-mail from the event. Failing to follow up is more prevalent than you might think and it essentially means that you’ve wasted a good opportunity. Don’t leave your prospect hanging. Reach out and touch someone (as the old saying goes.)
Lastly, remember that it is the government market we’re talking about. Today’s meeting may be just the first of several before you close business.
Allen Federal was in the “land of the mouse” recently
teaching GSA Schedule “do’s and don’ts”. One satisfied student said, “We really
didn’t know what we didn’t know”. Yes,
they have plenty of homework to do from the class. No matter whether you’re an experienced
contractor, or a newer market entry, it’s a sure thing that your company
doesn’t know – or at least isn’t focusing on – issues that can cost your
company money and time. Waiting till
later is never a good strategy, whether its contract compliance or seeing that
medical specialist you’ve been putting off.
The problems only get larger and more difficult to deal with. Make sure your contracts and federal business
stay healthy. Allen Federal consistently
receives top scores for delivering on-point training that is both educational
and entertaining. See what we can do for
you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multiple committees in the House of Representatives sent letters, and in
the case of the Government Oversight Committee, subpoenas, to nearly one hundred
offices and individuals throughout government last week. While you may well have seen the headline,
you may not have realized that these developments may distract some of your
federal customers and slow the pace of business.They will. Any time the Congressional oversight
apparatus kicks into high gear agencies tend to call “all hands”, even if the
number of people directly covered is relatively small. First, someone – who is not the individual
to whom the letter went – must gather whatever documentation the Congressional
committee asked for. Second, most
agencies hold concomitant meetings to ensure that there are no other immediate
closet skeletons that could widen the initial probe. Senior level agency people you might want to
call on for new business could have their schedules impacted. If you’re already performing a critical
support mission inside an agency your company, too, may want to conduct a quick
double check to ensure that billing and other administrative matters are all
running smoothly. Congress isn’t
the only branch of government causing a rush to the copier machines,
either. A federal court also ruled last
week that GSA must turn over more documents than it originally did on the FBI
headquarters issue. Distractions abound. Make sure you know what’s tugging at your
customer and stay focused.