Government vendor outreach is hard (but worth it)

By Tripp Martin, Proactis.

When any government agency puts out a significant proposal for bid, not only do they want many vendors to respond, in most cases the law requires it! Having more vendors responding increases competition and ultimately results in the lowest prices possible.

No matter the need, there are usually a very large number of vendors that can and would love to give you their business. The difficult part is ensuring that as many of those vendors as possible are aware of your particular needs. The process to find these vendors should start well before you actually need them. Having a good pool of trusted vendors will make you much more successful when it is time to make use of their services.
Easier said than done?
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy. The process requires a bit of effort, but it should not be that difficult. These vendors want your business, remember. Once you’ve established that relationship, they should be ready for your call when it comes. So, to continue to reach out to the community over time so you don’t ever miss out on new, potentially more profitable vendors.
Internet searches
The easiest way to find new vendors is the same way you would find anything else – the internet. Using the commodity, category or keywords you should be able to find vendors out there that will be able to help you with future needs. Once you’ve located them, invite them to register in your purchasing tool. They shouldn’t need asking twice.
Reach out locally
There are a number of ways to find vendors in your community. Using local vendors ensures that the public’s money is being reinvested in the local economy so everybody wins!
Recurring outreach sessions
Setting up a recurring outreach session each month allows you to stay connected to the community and provides an opportunity for more vendors to participate. It also provides a great forum for vendors to ask questions about purchasing processes. If the demand is high, you may even want to have sessions broken up by industry. This will allow the session to be focused on specific issues within that industry that may not affect others. They should be advertised using all of your social media accounts. Post and/or tweet often to keep engaged with your base.
Use YOUR website
Use your website to let potential vendors out there know that that there may be opportunities for them. It is easy to do and you already have a user base to see the information.
Mailing lists
Set up a mailing list and allow vendors to subscribe. You can break it out by industry or keep it simple. Then as needs arise, you simply need to notify the army you’ve collected over time. Competition and great prices are right around the corner.
Software-based approaches
If you already use enterprise-level software to manage to your proposals, then you already know how this works. You create the proposal and let the software take care of the rest. vendors have already registered in the system and specified the types of goods / services that they provide. All of those vendors are automatically available to you and are even immediately notified when new opportunities are released. They probably already have a large pool of vendors that will see your proposals without any additional on-boarding work on your part. In addition, they take care of advertising your requests to the general public and can even have that content embedded in your existing website.
If you don’t have software helping you facilitate this entire process, you should start looking for one ASAP. There are many different solutions out there suiting governments of all shapes and sizes.
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