When meeting with any government agency, having insight into the do’s and don’ts of procurement can be helpful. From setting up the initial meeting to implementing an awarded contract, understanding purchasing requirements can make the process go smoother. Below are three high- level strategies from a former Purchasing Agent:
1) Teach Me Something! One of the biggest challenges for procurement teams is limited research time on any given industry or commodity. During your presentation, teach the Purchasing Agent something about the industry, upcoming regulations, or how their team might be thinking to the future.
2) Build a Relationship. Government procurement is a very formal process, however, human beings are involved on both sides. With emergency preparedness, reaction times may be very fast. Suppliers with an established relationship are often the first ones Purchasing Agents reach out to during an emergency or upcoming opportunity.
3) What Makes You Special? Procurement managers meet with suppliers every week. Define those details that make your company and products special, and how you would specifically meet the needs of the Purchasing Agent’s organization. This is also a good time to “name drop” any other similar size/type agencies who are using your products/services.
State and local government purchases may result from different sources: bid, request for proposal (RFP), sole source, or cooperative contracting. A cooperative contract is an agreement that has been solicited and awarded by a govern- mental contracting agency and can be the fastest route to a sale. Because the time-consuming solicitation process is already complete, and the contract is used by many agencies (thus lever- aging greater pricing advantages), many governments are gravitating to these types of contracts. Sell your product or service, and then offer this awarded contract as an avenue to purchase (rather than competing in a solicitation process every time). If your company doesn’t already have a cooperative contract, you may want to pursue one as part of your sales strategy. The National Cooperative Procurement Partners (NCPP) serves as the professional association for cooperative procurement organizations, and offers free educational materials on its website: www.NCPPAssociation.org