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June 2021 - Delving Into Vertical Markets: Tips & Tricks for Being Successful

Now that we have seen that there is money and opportunity for furniture in the return to office plan, how do you take advantage of this with only 3 months left in the year?

As I sit here today, we have reached the halfway mark of the calendar year which means we are headed into the 4th quarter of the federal fiscal year. (the federal year runs from October 1st - September 30th.) Why is this important if you are targeting federal agencies?

  1. The United States Government has a budget of approximately $550B that is used for buying goods and services.

  2. The budget of the United States government is a “use it or lose it” budget. So, if an agency has been given money and they do not spend it, it is likely they will not get as much money next year to spend. This incentivizes every agency to spend their annual budget each year.

  3. In a “normal” year, the federal government awards almost 1/3 of its annual spend during fourth quarter. That is always good to know and should be taken into consideration when you do planning and budgeting for the year. However, we are not in a “normal” year and spending has been down due to agencies not being back in the office. The Biden administration just set a dead-line of mid-July for agencies to submit their return to office plans which means they will need to be planning for any changes to the physical office space they will need to get people back in the office.

  4. There has been an influx of additional budget monies for COVID and return to office will be a good place for agencies to spend this money. Just like we have seen, and continue to see, in the commercial market agencies will need to plan a return to office environment that makes people feel comfortable and safe and furniture can play a big role in that.

Now that we have seen that there is money and opportunity for furniture in the return to office plan, how do you take advantage of this with only 3 months left in the year?
Although I will say you are a little behind the eight ball if you are just now thinking of targeting government for 2021, not all is lost and there is still some opportunity to be had for all.

f you do not have a GSA contract, don’t worry. Only about 10% of the total federal spend goes through a GSA contract. Some of the ways agencies buy outside of GSA contract are by working through socio-economic partners like Native American firms or by working with a General Contractor that buys the product for the agency (this can sometimes be a schedule buy if the GC has a letter of authorization from the agency, but in my experience most of the time the GC is not buying off GSA contract.) A little less common would be the opportunity for an agency to buy your products or services Open Market. However, if the order is under the Micro-purchase Threshold, which according to FAR13.2 is $20,000 for purchases in US and $30,000 for purchase outside US, a GSA contract is not required to make the purchase.

For those of you who do have a GSA contract but are not sure what you should be doing at this moment to try to take advantage of the monies that are going to be spent I offer some words of wisdom:

  1. Now is not the time to try to create a new business development end user marketing plan or strategy for this fiscal year – that should have been done in October 2020.

  2. Look at your current vendor partners, and identify those that do well in the government market. Reach out to them to partner closer in the upcoming months to see if you can drive some business through a better partnership with them. They have the relationships and have been working their strategy-perhaps they will be willing to bring you into opportunities.

  3. Look at your existing government clients. How are you marketing to them to grow your business in those agencies? They have already bought your products once, if they are happy perhaps, they have a new need you can meet.

If all else fails for this fiscal year, start to work on your strategy for fiscal 2022 which starts October 1st! There will always be money to be spent by the federal government (most years it increases for specific agencies) and you’ll definitely need a plan on how you want to pursue that business. Focus and strategy is the key to success in selling to any vertical market, but I find that to be especially true in the federal government vertical.

About Michelle Warren

Michelle Warren is President of Catalyst Consulting Group, a firm specializing in providing strategic solutions to the commercial furniture industry to enhance companies' sales and positioning within their industry and distribution. Michelle has been in the commercial furniture industry for over 25 years with experience on both the dealer and manufacturer side of the industry. She has experience at the EVP, VP and National Sales Manager level for large and small manufacturers.


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