I hope you enjoyed my first original post last Friday. In that post, I gave an overview of the Go for the Greens conference, a general idea of the great seminars that are offered at the conference, and what great connections can be made there.
The first seminar that I attended was “Procurement Do’s and Don’ts: How to Woo Your Way into a Contract (or Not).”
Procurement is the process of gaining business. This session was moderated by Nancy Allan from WEBNC. I was very interested in her approach. Instead of just speaking about the do’s and don’ts and listing them on a PowerPoint presentation, she chose to act out scenarios through role playing, and then asked the panelists to comment on each scenario. I felt like this approach really made people pay attention; not to mention it was hilarious. The panelist participants were:
- Lisa Johnson with UPS,
- Shyam Reddy with the GSA,
- Carol Craig with Craig Technologies, and
- Shelonda Stokes with Greibo Media.
The presenters were
- Matt Thursam with Walt Disney World,
- Pamela Orurke with ICON,
- Lisa Hickey with Douglass Screen Printer,
- Mercedes La Porta with Mercedes Electric, and
- Cathy Inburgia with Creative Communications.
The First scenario was ‘Do Not Use Guilt.’ The scenario told the story of Matt and Pamela. Pamela approached Matt to tell him how upset she was that she had yet to receive a contract from him. She belabored the points that she had known him for so long, that she has been attending all of his functions, and staying involved with his company. In essence, she said, “What is going on? How could you do this to me? Why won’t you help me?” Using guilt is not the way to win business. Ask yourself: Does the company you are approaching need what you are selling? Is your company a good fit for their company? Or are you blinded by the potential sell? How do you know if you are right fit?
The Panelist comments were to:
- Build a relationship with the company you are looking to do business with, and through that you will know if you are a right fit.
- Learn as much as you can about the company and what they do.
- If you are looking to do business with the government, and want to find out what type of projects they have available, check out these websites. www.FBO.gov or www.ebuy.gsa.gov
The second scenario was ‘I Cannot Get through the Procurement Process.’ During the second scene between the Matt and Pamela, Pamela marched to Matt’s office to tell him that she not going to deal with the procurement agents anymore and that she was going to go straight to him to get business done. The point was made during the scenario that companies have procurement procedures and processes in place for a reason. The process needs to be fair and equitable for everyone. Trying to bypass that will not get you anywhere.
The Panelist commented to:
- Have your company pitch ready and polished, so that whoever you are speaking to will know exactly what you have to offer.
- Make sure you have all of your paperwork ready and you know the process in and out so that you can navigate through the procurement process easily.
- Build relationship with companies that are already doing business with the company you are trying to get in with. Then they can mentor you on the best way to navigate the process.
- Build a relationship with the contracting procurement agent in the company to find out the best ways to present your company to theirs.
The third scenariowas ‘I did not win the bid, what did I do wrong?’ The scene for this scenario was a new girl, Lisa Hickey, complaining to Matt that she did everything right; that she had jumped through all the hoops and she still did not win the bid. In essence, she was asking, “What did I do wrong? Do you guys just hire your friends?”
The Panelist comments were:
- Every company has a process for procurement and most company will allow you to hear why your bid was not accepted.
- With the government By-Law, you have the right to hear why your bid was not accepted.
The Fourth scenario was How do I do business with the Government ? The scene included Mercedes complaining to Matt on how her business had been in Miami for many years; yet after trying for years and years to do business with the government, she had still yet to find a way in.
The Panelist comments were:
- The government offers business breakthrough programs (hana add this link http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/239329) that assist you on learning how to do business with them.
- Get registered and involved with 8A and HubZone, contractors. You can use these programs to find subcontracts for their projects.
- Ask questions! Are you the right type of business for that company?
- Utilize the office of Small Business Administration. Their mission is to help you do business with the government.
- Make sure you have the right certifications to conduct business with the company; for example, minority owned business, women owner business, etc. This will make your business stand out from the competition
The last scenario was Flirting and Bribery is Not the Answer, The scene between the Matt and Cathy had Cathy coming into Matt office acting very flirtatious. She told him how she would do anything to win this business. This scenario was the funniest and had Matt turning red. The panelists were also unconformable with the scenario. There is NO way that flirting or bribery is acceptable, not to mention the fact that you can go to jail for any of these acts. You will never win a bid this way.
The Panelist comments were:
- If put in this position, immediately call for another associate to join in the meeting so that there would be a witness.
- If put in this situation, you should immediately call off the meeting.
- Suggest they fill out the proper forms and speak with a procurement agent.
Overall, I found this session to be fun and interesting. I almost forgot that I was learning because of the creative way the presenters acted out the scenarios. I hope that you found a lot of useful information and links through this post on how to navigate your way through the procurement process with large companies. Just remember that this will take time. Be patient, and don’t forget the importance of leveraging your relationships with the companies and other vendors that work with them! Take time to learn the procurement process and make sure you are a right fit for their business. And make sure you have the right certifications so that if it comes down to the ‘Top 2,’ your company will stand out.
Leave us comment below! Let us know if this article helped you out, answered any questions you may have had, etc.
–Alexis Daly, Sales Manager at 317 Virtual Services, LLC.