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Identify Your Customers

Now that you are thinking of your business in terms of the end items that you are capable of providing, you are ready to identify prospective customers: the buying offices within the federal government that have a need for your product or service.

A simple rule of thumb is that if the item is a commercial-type or general-purpose item, there is a good chance that the General Services Administration (GSA) buys it for both the military and civilian offices. Think of the GSA as the "Sears and Roebuck" of the government. This doesn't mean that the military or a civilian office won't be using the product; it just means that the GSA may issue the contract, and other government offices, both military and civilian, can buy off of that contract.

If the item or service is predominately military in nature, then one of the Department of Defense buying offices would be the place to go. The same is true for civilian agencies; if energy related, you may want to check out the Department of Energy as a probable customer. There are a number of ways to find the appropriate buying offices:

Work Smart

Work Smart

If your company produces or provides an item or service that is commercial or general purpose in nature, there is a good chance that you will be marketing your company to the General Services Administration (GSA) instead of individual government buying offices. The GSA negotiates contracts for these sorts of products and services with commercial businesses, and then both the military and civilian government offices buy off those contracts. (Examples of such products and services could be anything from furniture products and services, cleaning supplies, copier equipment, hardware and appliances to marketing, media, and public information services; paints, pest control, financial services, and training and travel services, just to name a few.)

If this is the type of product or service you sell, be sure and read "Get to know the GSA," in which we take you through the entire process of making the GSA--sometimes thought of as the Sears, Roebuck for the federal government--one of your customers.