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By: Eileen Kent – The Federal Sales Sherpa

The current temperature for GSA Schedule Vendors seems to be a little “cool” these days as GSA is moving forward on their JAN/SAN and MRO FSSI mandatory source programs, reverse auctions and kicking companies off the schedule for less than $25K in sales.

What does that mean for you? Those who win the JAN/SAN and MRO FSSIs are going to get a lot more business, earning GSA 2% of every dollar rather than 0.75% in IFF and leaving the rest of the GSA schedule holders – who have been serving GSA and their customers for years – out in the cold with no “mandatory source” stamp of approval next to their company names.

So, GSA Schedule holders, you have several strategic choices.

  1. Walk away from selling to the feds altogether or sell to the feds without a GSA Schedule. Those GSA 51V schedule holders who have been receiving orders through GSAAdvantage with little or no sales executives in the field developing relationships or who have been squeaking by each year with barely $25K in sales – are going to lose business to the MRO FSSI and the JAN/SAN FSSI and eventually leave GSA. According to GSA, it costs them at least $3K a year per vendor to manage your schedules, so if you’re not committed to sales, there’s no point in maintaining a schedule.
  2. Respond to the proposal and make sure you have your Ability One Contractor partnerships in line along with your eMALL listings…….and hope you’re one of the chosen winners.
  3. Spend this time marketing and selling to your current federal clients as much as you can before the FSSI is awarded….and solidifying relationships at the end-user level…..and continuing to sell direct to your clients on your GSA schedule – and pointing them directly to your pricing and products on GSAAdvantage.
  4. Partner with the winners of the FSSI (if they’ll have you) – especially the small businesses who will need sales help and find a way to “borrow” their “FSSI.”

GSA Contractors who have invested in sales executives, developed a strong brand for themselves through regular marketing campaigns an partnered with others in the industry – are still going to continue to thrive for at least another year – until GSA and the FSSI winners get it together enough to bring their “mandatory” messages to the market.

The reality is that most GSA schedule holders have already sold “around” the mandatory sources for years – between the prison industries and Ability one, NIB/NISH contractors, there are a lot of companies selling to the feds – products and services – and obtained permission to sell to the agencies anyway.  So, if you don’t win this FSSI – you need to make a conscious choice – act the victim and keep writing your Politicians to Protest and/or leave the federal sales business altogether – or build an action plan to get in front of your customers (face-to-face, on the phone and through marketing campaigns) to become a preferred source over the mandatory source…..right now.

Remember, the word “mandatory” is a strong one, but in terms of buying habits and behaviors, the government buyer doesn’t have to do anything. The buyers have choices: they can buy through GSA, through FSSI, through eMall, through Ability One, through reverse auctions, on a credit card, through Simplified Acquisition Procedures, Open Market, on a BPA or through a Prime.

You still have time to make it happen this year.

  1. Perform a Competitive Analysis – to see what’s really happening in contracting your products and services
  2. Train (or re-train) your team on The Federal Sales Game-How to Play to WIN!
  3. Build a focused action plan toward the appropriate agencies and buying offices along with potential teaming partners (with marketing and direct selling activities)

If you don’t know how to do this, let’s talk at 312-636-5381.

You can do this!

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