For a wide variety of technology companies, getting a foot in the door of the public sector is a huge win. The same is true for value-added resellers (VARs) who work in the professional AV field: Government agencies are a growing force in AV, and will offer VARs exciting opportunities for years to come.
According to a new study by Acclaro Growth Partners, the global AV products and services industry is expected to total $116 billion by 2016. And, as InfoComm International points out, “Over time AV systems have become complex and essential to the operation of government….resulting in a growing need for service contracts.” That means VARs like you are poised to break into the public sector market – and see that part of your business grow steadily through at least 2016.
However, moving into the public sector is a bit different than selling to corporate, healthcare and education customers. To get started, keep in mind the following advice for selling proAV systems to the public sector:
1. Get on the GSA Schedule.
Ideally, your company should become part of the GSA Schedules program, under which the public sector establishes long-term, government-wide contracts with small businesses like yours. The program is particularly helpful for small businesses because it helps them to compete with larger, more well-known firms.
Getting on the GSA Schedule would be a significant coup for your company, so be sure to do your research beforehand. Check out these tips for securing a GSA Schedule contract. Then, click here to visit the GSA Schedule main page.
2. Find an opportunity with FedBizOpps.
The federal government is incredibly large and complex, so identifying groups or agencies with technology needs can be daunting. Luckily a site called FedBizOpps.gov keeps track of every available job opportunity within the government for businesses.
Searchable by posting date, location, agency and type of job, FedBizOpps is actually fairly helpful. If you’re unable to get on the GSA Schedule – or, while you’re waiting for your application to go through – try searching this database, which currently lists more than 37,000 federal opportunities.
3. Leverage one of the government’s outreach programs.
The federal government continually seeks to support small businesses. Even if your company does not get approved for the GSA Schedule, there are several other programs and opportunities for breaking into the federal vertical. These are coordinated by the Office of Small Business Utilization and include:
- Subcontracting opportunities: For GSA Schedule vendors that require additional help on a project
- Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity: Flexible projects that don’t yet have an established end date
- Training and support: The OSBU offers everything from interagency networking opportunities to online training sessions for small businesses that are interested in working in the government space. Take advantage of these offerings, and your company could easily become a government vendor.
4. Diversify your product offering.
In addition to the usual AV suspects – PA systems, electronic whiteboards, microphones, etc. – public sector customers often require some unique devices and systems. If you’re interested in breaking into the government space, start familiarizing yourself now with the systems these customers might require, such as secure AV, devices for command and control rooms, “green” technology and more. (Today’s GSA is particularly interested in sustainable technology; click here to find out more.)
5. Find a well-established partner.
Consider partnering with a well-established technology and services provider that has experience in the public sector and can help you bridge the gap into the government vertical. Has your company been able to break into the government vertical? If so, what is your top piece of advice for selling ProAV systems to the public sector?