Thursday, May 3, 2012

Finding Your Buyer With Government Agencies

The first thing a small business should do if interested in working with the world's largest company (the government) is to find your specific buyer.  Government agencies buy everything from lipstick to ammunition to professional services to fish food and everything in between. 

With that being said, not all agencies will buy your particular product or service so instead of registering with all the different agency registries (there are over 600) which takes time and will overload your inbox.  Instead find your buyer and focus on marketing to those buyers specifically.  So, how do you find that buyer?  How do you know if they are a buyer for you?

First thing is first, how do you know if someone is a buyer for your particular product or service?

Well, research what they may have purchased in the past or currently.  If they are currently buying or have bought your product or service in the past, there is a great likely hood that they will buy again.

How do you find that buyer?

One of the great things about government agencies and their buyers is that they are listed on the Internet.  You just need to know how to search for them.  There are a number of different bid databases that are typically private companies that have been contracted by various agencies to management their publicly announced opportunities.  Such sites are BidSync, FindRFP, RFP Depot, PlanetBids, etc.  These sites are all very similar.  They also have a "FREE" for you to use aspect and a "PAID" service.  Unless you have a team of people that solely writes proposals and searches for bids, my recommendation is DON'T pay!  In an upcoming blog, I will demonstrate how to find those bid opportunities that appear to have a cost associated with them.

Since they are all similar; we will use BidSync as the example of how to find your buyer:

1. If you have not yet registered with the site, you will be required to register (remember only register for the FREE service despite the attractive offers the company might try to "SELL" you).

2. Log into your account.

3. Once you log in; you will have the opportunity to "search."  Using some generic search terms for your product or service; for example if you are a civil engineer, simply search "engineer."  You can also search for various agency types; for example, if you KNOW that universities buy your product or service, you can simply search the term "university."

4. You will then get two types of lists.  One list that requires you to "pay" and the other that is free.  In BidSync, you will see "Links PLUS Bids" and "Links Bids."  The "Links Bids" are the bids that you will have access to for free.

5. Click on the tab that says "Links Bids."

6. Click on the bid opportunity.

7.  Do not focus on what the bid is for; at this time we are just trying to identify buyers and we don't care about the bid.  On this page you will have some very important information: The Agency (this is the funding source), The Department (this is the department that is buying), and a link that says, "See Contact Information."

8. Click on "See Contact Information" and a box pops up with a name and usually a phone number and / or email address.


10. Put that buyer in your database.

And...THAT'S how you find your buyer.

If for some reason, no bids come up for "Current Bids" in the search area; you can also search "Past Bids" to get buyers.  Even though those bids are in the past, they still give us the buyers name and if that buyer has bought your product or service in the past, they will most likely be buying in the future.

For more information or one-on-one FREE assistance with "Finding Your Buyer," contact the North San Diego SBDC at 760-795-8740 to schedule an appointment.

This article was brought to you by Cheryl A Brown, small business owner and specialist consultant with the North San Diego SBDC.

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