The Truth About GSA Schedules and Winning Government Contracts

October 4, 2023 | Government

Image taken from Shutterstock

For the past few years, I have pontificated about how getting a GSA schedule does not guarantee success in government contracts. When seasoned government contractors or companies new to the game tell me, “I need to get a GSA schedule. Can you help me get one?” My response is almost always a question, “Why?”.

There are plenty of companies out there that would be delighted to provide any company with a GSA schedule and take your money. The problem is that many companies don’t share that GSA sales aren’t guaranteed or know how to create a strategy to help you utilize your schedule to win more contract awards.

Instead, they post this rosy picture that many government contracts are awarded through the schedule AND that no sales, marketing, or relationship building is required. It’s almost like an Amazon or Walmart portal for the government. People just sit at their computers, filling their shopping carts and submitting orders.

How Much is Spent Using The GSA Schedule

A great deal of contracts ARE awarded through the schedule. According to FY22 numbers (FY23 data isn’t complete yet) reported by GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), over $40B was spent buying products and services on GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS). However, roughly $600B was obligated by the government to contractors for products and services in the same period. So…. less than 7% of all the products and services bought by the government were bought on GSA’s MAS.

No Sales, Marketing, Or Relationship Is Required. Not True.

In my almost 20 years of experience, I have only met one company that consistently did respectable sales numbers ($300K) through their MAS contract without directly building relationships with buyers. They still did well because they:

  1. Were a Recognized Brand,

  2. Had the Lowest Price in the GSA Advantage Catalog

  3. Had an Expansive Online Presence.

I believe these three attributes still don’t guarantee success in the GSA market. However, they are excellent pieces of your overall strategy. What does guarantee success is having a plan BEFORE you even pursue getting an MAS contract. Don’t believe me? Do you think you don’t need a strategy primarily centered around building relationships with those who buy what you sell on GSA’s MAS? Then, answer this question. Why did over 6500 of the 14,000+ MAS holders fail to make even one sale in FY22?

Your Next Move

On Thursday, October 26th, I will be facilitating a webinar through Govology on how to build a strategy to leverage your MAS contract to win more contract awards. We’ll dive into critical aspects that can make a real difference in your sales success, including:

  1. Analyzing government demand: Discover whether the government actively purchases the products/services you offer on the GSA.

  2. Evaluating pricing competitiveness: Ensure your pricing is on point to stand out and win contracts.

  3. Examining awards and agencies involved: Gain a deeper understanding of the awards granted against GSA schedules and the agencies most likely to engage with your offerings.

Please click here to register.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a GSA schedule does not guarantee success in winning government contracts. Success depends on strategic planning, building relationships, and offering competitive pricing. Proactive and informed approaches are essential for leveraging GSA contracts effectively.

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MYTH: Government agencies always award contracts based on price alone. Lowest price always wins.

FACT: While some contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, government agencies also make awards based on the best value which includes trade-offs between the ability to perform the work, quality, past performance, and price.