The General Services Administration (GSA) is launching something called the Acquisition Gateway, an online workplace designed to help simplify the acquisition process for government buyers, and reduce redundancies (hence the name “Act As One”).
The portal will initially cover three purchasing categories – administrative support, IT hardware, and IT software, with more categories coming.
This video from the GSA explains how the gateway works, and the rationale behind the initiative:
As Judy Bradt points out in her article for the Washington Business Journal, the risk here is that if your current and prospective customers enter this gateway, they will face an overwhelming number of choices.
To make the quickest and simplest decision, they may automatically look for the lowest price. Yet since vendors can’t access this portal, you’ll have no way of knowing how your price compares to that of your competitors.
Judy suggests you ask your customers what they think of the Acquisition Gateway. Their answer will tell you how loyal they are or whether they’re shopping around.
Read Judy’s full article for her two tips on how to make sure you end up front and center when your customers browse this new acquisition portal.
So what can you do, especially if, like many small businesses, the pricing strategy for Multiple Award Schedules (so-called GSA Schedules, like the IT70, or MOBIS), is to set “reasonable” prices and then discount in bids?
One thing is to add to your labor category descriptions a legend that indicates requirements matching is negotiable with the requirement. Another is to carefully screen customers and let them know in advance that bid prices may be adjusted/lower than Schedule prices. And finally, which I’m sure Judy would agree with as well because we’re preaching the same thing, build a relationship.
One more thing I’d recommend is to be sure your website matches the branding you use in your other materials. That’ll be a post for another day, but for now, just be aware that buyers go to websites, and often when you don’t even know they’re buyers yet.