October 10, 2022

Relationship Selling and Government Contracts

In sales, and in business in general, relationships are key. That’s true in government contracting as well.

Although government buyers are bound by rigid procurement policies and procedures, relationship selling has a place in B2G.

Your sales process and approach will be defined by the type of work you are pursuing. For example, novel concepts require a different approach than commoditized products or services. However, relationships play a role in both cases.


Relationship Selling for Novel Concepts

Government buyers rely on rigid public purchasing processes, so you won’t win many state and local contracts with a handshake on the golf course. Instead, you’ll have to pursue a formal process that could take months or years to bear fruit.

But that doesn’t mean that relationship selling isn’t important in government sales.

This is especially true if you have a novel product or service. In order to even begin the procurement process, you’ll have to identify and nurture a champion within the government first. You’re looking for someone who will take an interest in the idea and then help you take it through the process.

Only after you’ve convinced your champion of your concept will you be able to engage in a public purchasing process via ITB, RFP, RFQ, etc.

That relationship with your champion will give you a leg up during the public phase of the purchasing process.


Relationship Selling for Commoditized Products

If you have a commoditized product that is purchased regularly (for example, office furniture or IT equipment), you’ll typically sell through a General Services Agreements (GSA).

GSAs are put out to bid regularly and interested parties, including the vendor of record, must submit a bid. In this case, the biggest factor in the decision will be making sure you can submit a bid that showcases your firm’s competence, experience, and competitive pricing. The contract will often be awarded to the vendor with the lowest responsible bid.

Still, relationship selling helps. Your relationship with the buyer will lend credibility to your claim to be the most responsible choice.


Relationship Selling in Government Contracting

Over the years, we’ve seen first-hand the impact that strong relationships can have on state and local government contracts.

And really, that’s no surprise. B2G buyers are people and people buy from people they like—even when that buying process requires jumping through a long set of bureaucratic hoops.

Want to dive deeper into the mindset of B2G buyers? Download our whitepaper!