Can I Win Enough Government Business to Justify my Investment?

August 9, 2017

by Vicky Strycharske

When I first read this topic, I thought, “Wow! That’s a really hard question to answer! There are so many variables that affect a company’s ability to win a contract, let alone “enough” government contracts, that it would be nearly impossible to answer this question reasonably. Then I realized that the topic is “Can” not “Will” I win enough, and of course the answer is “Yes!” You can win government contracts if you target your government market properly and then develop and follow a strategy for selling to that market.

Let’s face it – the federal government is literally the richest customer in the world. And they buy pretty much everything! But while they do buy a wide variety of products and services, the approach you use for selling a very unique, new item (a “Flux capacitor” for example) to the government is very different from winning contracts for janitorial services. (For those too young to remember, the flux capacitor was the core component of Dr. Emmett Brown’s time traveling DeLorean time machine in the movie “Back to the Future!”)

Every agency in every building needs their trash emptied and their floors swept, just as every commercial building does. So there are a lot of customers within the federal government for janitorial services. To target this market, as we’ve talked about many times, you’ll need to research (to see which agencies actually do the purchasing of janitorial services) and the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website (, to see what janitorial opportunities have been announced. But this is also an extremely competitive market, because all of the other janitorial companies want to win those very same contracts. You will need to put together a competitive quote or a proposal for each of these opportunities, submit your best price, and wait to see who is selected.

Selling the flux capacitor (a one-of-a-kind solution to time travel) to the federal government would take a whole different approach. You will need to identify which agencies need your flux capacitor. You might need to look for the agencies that buy very cutting edge technology, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to see if someone there is trying to solve the time travel riddle. (Don’t laugh, there probably is!) Because your item is new and unique, there will be a much smaller government market place, at least until the government starts buying it, and other companies start developing and selling their own flux capacitors, too!

If you’d like further details on targeting your government market, check out the many blogs, podcasts, and webinars we have provided within the Skyway community over the past several years. Now what you do with that information is what will determine how successful you are in winning government business. But let’s get back to the initial question which was “Can I win enough government business to justify my investment?” Let’s look at the numbers. According to USA Spending, the federal government spent $3,703,531,458 (that’s nearly $4 Billion!) in one year (2016)! And DARPA (just one agency), spent $299,013,388 (nearly $300 million) on more than 600 contracts to “…identify and pursue high-risk, high-payoff research initiatives across a broad spectrum of science and engineering disciplines and to transform these initiatives into important, radically new, game-changing technologies…” [from DARPA-BAA-16-46 synopsis, 3Jun16.] So can you make enough to justify your investment? What do you think?

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