DATA SHOW A LOT OF CONTRACTORS, BUT NOT EVERYONE GETS BUSINESS
Publicly available data federal contract spending data shows that there are thousands of professional service and technology services companies in government contracting, but that most business is conducted by a much smaller sub-set. A quick look at the numbers comes up with a reasonable estimate of over 26,000 professional services contractors. Less than 900, though, account for 80% of obligated dollars. In IT services the numbers are 11,250 and 445, respectively. The most successful companies each manage multiple contracts. The information shows what experienced contractors have long-known: Relationships and experience matter in federal contracting. Federal buyers like to have trust in their suppliers and minimize risk. Innovation cannot be totally discounted but, as we have said before, “innovation” means something different in most of the federal market than it does in its commercial counterpart. It is usually best understood as being innovative in comparison to something a federal agency, itself, hasn’t tried yet. The take-away for companies that would like to crack into the top 80% is not to necessarily have a better mouse-trap. Rather, make sure your brand is recognizable in the market. Attend even virtual contractor-related gatherings. Partner with companies that have an established market presence. Get known and get trusted. While there are newer market entries that succeed by promoting their solutions, that’s a steep hill and one that requires a federal customer to like it so much that they’re willing to take a chance on something no other agency has yet done. It may take a bit longer to develop relationships and a reputation, but the road is not as steep and can actually get smoother over time for those that dedicate the necessary resources.