How to Become a Vendor for the Government
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Government vendors, also called contractors, sell goods or services to all levels of government. Goods and services can include everything from office supplies to printing services and more. The opportunities for selling to governments are varied. If you offer a product or service that a government agency might need, then you shouldn't ignore this lucrative marketplace. Just remember that successful selling to the government requires you to stand out from the crowd, requiring savvy and aggressiveness. To become a government vendor, simply follow a few steps.
Make sure you have a product or service that government agencies need. If you are a beautician, taxi driver or barber, chances are the government won't be actively looking for your services. However, if you have a print shop or are a computer networking expert, you could have a great opportunity for expanding your market.
Target a specific level or levels of government. If your goal is to stay mostly local, then make that your first target.
Visit the agency's website. Most have pages that tell prospective contractors how to sell goods or services to the town or city. The first thing you will have to do is tell the government about you and your business. Completing a vendor profile informs the purchasing department who you are, how to contact you, the kind of business you're in and what goods or services you are offering.
Be sure you inform the agency of the level of purchases it would be making. Specify if they are recurring, low-dollar purchases, like office supplies. Perhaps you are instead bidding on contracts at the lower end of the scale under $20,000. Perhaps you will bid on contracts at the upper end of the scale, more than $20,000 to $25,000.
Find out the people doing the purchasing for the agency — the key step in the process. It is extremely important to find out who the decision makers are and make an effort to contact them. Make sure they know you. Don't sit around waiting for announcements about what goods and services they need (usually called Requests for Proposals, or RFPs).
Contact the decision makers personally. Call and request a brief introductory meeting. Once you meet, follow up with a cordial letter including a company brochure. Keep your name, business and products/services on their minds. Ask if it is all right to put them on your mailing list for product updates and other kinds of announcements. Assuming this is acceptable, make sure they get all the news and be sure to request that they tell you promptly whenever a new opportunity arises.
Remember that this basic strategy applies to every level of government, including federal. If you are not the face-to-face salesman type, hire someone.
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