How to sell to the public sector

With all of the stimulus money that has been injected into the economy, many of the organizations that are spending the most money are those in the public sector. Since public sector organizations are spendng tax payers' money, there also happens to be a lot of scrutiny in the purchases that these organizations make. If you want to participate in the competitive process and win, there are three things that you need to do:

Know the guidelines that are being followed - most public sector organizations must follow documented procurement policies which guide the process that must be used to make purchasing decisions. These documents are usually posted on organization websites, so review them and get familiar with them;
Know the evaluation criteria and process - most public sector RFPs will lay out the process for evaluating bids and the weight of the different evaluation criteria. You also need to understand how the process works when the evaluation team is reviewing bids. Everyone has an equal say, so decisions are made by consensus, not by force;
Follow the rules - RFPs will contain proposal rules and guidelines to be followed. Ensure that you understand what are the grounds for rejection of your proposal and follow the rules as stated. As a result of  the public scrutiny for every purchasing decision, organizations will reject bids if they are not compliant with the rules laid out in the RFP document.

I would also advise you to use the debriefing process if you participated in a public RFP and were not awarded the business. Organizations are obliged to give you an opportunity to discuss your bid and their process if you request a debrief session.

Following the advice above will significantly increase your chances of winning contracts with public sector organizations. The game is different, so you just need to know the rules.

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