States, cities and counties direct over $3 trillion in annual spending, employ more than 19 million people and oversee massive operations in public safety, health care, education, finance and transportation. While there is no shortage of opportunity to sell to government, finding government contracts to bid on is no easy task. To succeed, companies need a tool that can connect them to current and developing opportunities and the states and localities in search of IT solutions.
Navigator is the only sales intelligence tool focused exclusively on the $100+ billion state and local government IT markets. It’s both a market research tool and automated delivery service that provides an easy-to-use way to search for the types of opportunities that best match your company’s strengths. Last year, Navigator tracked over 50,000 opportunities and 23,000 solicitations for E-rate eligible services. But how can you use the tool to find the opportunities that are a best fit for your company? How do you determine which opportunities are worth responding to? Finding, qualifying and responding to bids are an inevitable part of the public sector sales process. Here are our top four tips for success:
1. Target your government bid sales territory
Split up your potential customers into segments based on various characteristics. Factors could include geography, IT budget, etc. that can help you narrow down your top prospects and leads.
For example, Navigator allows you to focus by jurisdiction, IT expenditure or geographic region. To narrow results based on jurisdiction, click on that specific area. Navigator will display existing and emerging opportunities in that jurisdiction as well as which IT systems or tools states and localities in that area have previously purchased (the database contains information going back to 2010). You can also find contact information for key decision makers in that jurisdiction.
You can also target prospects by IT expenditure. The map on Navigator’s opening page shades states by IT budget. Click on a state to view an in-depth profile with specific information about how much that jurisdiction spends on IT and the types of technology they most often buy.
You can search by geographic region, which allows you to do things like find opportunities by your sales territory instead of by state. You can also filter by county to get data on local governments within that county. Or, filter by ZIP code to get even more specific data. You can also enter a city name to get data about that city.
Finally, you can search by special districts, such as port authorities, water, transit and park districts, which make up the largest portion of government agencies (there are 38,000 special district government entities in the U.S.). Navigator’s special district information includes opportunities as well as budget, demographic information, decision-maker contacts and organizational charts so you can understand how each special district is structured.
2. Zero-in on relevant government contract opportunities
Once you’ve narrowed your search to your top prospects, focus your results further so you can concentrate on the most promising leads. One strategy for doing so is to search by type of opportunity. If your company sells ERP systems exclusively, for example, you can set Navigator up to automatically deliver information to you about any government entity currently seeking an ERP system. You can also set the system up to send you reports that include those current or developing opportunities at regular intervals you define.
Or, if you sell to education, you can narrow your search by E-rate funding request status or by service or IT category, jurisdiction or E-rate funding year.
You can also target a specific decision maker in the jurisdiction you’re pursuing and access their contact information. You can then use the “Send to Salesforce” button to automatically import that information from Navigator into your Salesforce CRM (for companies that don’t use Salesforce, Navigator also offers a JASON raw data feed your developers can download and use in other types of sales and marketing tools).
3. Understand the competitive government contract landscape
There are multiple purchasing contract methods or “contract vehicles” available to government agencies, including statewide contracts, annual contracts, master contracts and blanket contracts. Other types of purchasing vehicles include shared service, partner/resellers, bids, subscriptions and pilots. Every purchasing vehicle you can leverage is one layer of friction removed from the buying process — so it makes strategic sense to identify multiple channels that you can use to scale your reach within government.
You can search Navigator by state term contracts to find potential partners. Or, you can track state term contracts so you can bid on them when they come up for renewal. Navigator provides state term contract expiration dates, shows you how many renewal option years exist, and provides a link to the contract itself.
4. Understand the government bid process
Government purchasing is controlled by specific rules and regulations, which vary by jurisdiction and product. Ensure your contracting avenues are in place before you attempt to close a deal. All too often a company will get a government buyer interested in its products or services without thinking through the procurement or contracting channel, resulting in either a delayed or lost deal. Understand the government landscape prior to procurement and partner as necessary to remove friction from the buying process.
Use Navigator to find more government bids
Navigator includes everything you need to find current and emerging government opportunities to bid on. Every day, Navigator provides in-depth, timely access to the hundreds of technology-specific RFPs, bids and awards issued in the following jurisdictions:
- 50 state governments
- Cities with populations over 18,000
- Counties with populations over 43,000
- K-12 school districts with student enrollment greater than 5,000
- Special districts with budgets greater than $33 million
- Public universities, private universities and community colleges with enrollment greater than 2,500
In the field or at the office, Navigator provides you the precise information you need to spot and close the deal.