Editor’s note: As the federal fiscal year-end winds down to its Sept. 30 close, GPN got the views of Lisette Bernstein on federal contracting opportunities. Bernstein is Vice President, Customer Marketing and Relationship Management at New York-based American Express. Bernstein’s thoughts are below.

September 30th is the end of the federal fiscal year, and typically the summer months present a huge opportunity for small business contractors to market their goods and services. During this time, federal agencies that have yet to meet their small business and socio-economic contracting goals are busy looking for and talking to qualified vendors to make sure all remaining dollars are awarded appropriately.

Businesses can take action in the months leading up to the federal government’s year-end and consider the below tips to maximize their chances for landing a government contract:

-    Contact the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) at the agencies you are targeting – OSDBU officials can share their agency’s needs and sometimes can even connect small businesses with contracting officers or program managers handling those projects.

-    Take advantage of teaming opportunities – Larger companies are able to meet specific contracting requirements when they team with small businesses. With teaming, small businesses are able to gain experience working with government customers and prove their value for future contracts.

-    Leverage unfulfilled contracts/agreements – Sometimes firms will have customers who could not commit to a product or service earlier in the year for budget reasons. It’s worthwhile to revisit these customers and see if they have “sweep up” money to make those purchases.

-    Prepare to move fast – Businesses should be equipped to respond to multiple solicitations quickly and only bid on jobs they can confidently deliver.

-    Be very specific in your proposal – While this is always important, it’s especially crucial in the fourth quarter when time is of the essence.  An American Express OPEN survey found more than half of procurement officials and agency specialists say specificity is the single most important thing small businesses can do to increase odds of landing a contract.

While summer offers an opportunity to kick back and relax, it’s also a key time for small businesses to prepare to compete for contracts during the government’s busiest spending period.

In the video, speakers from the American Express OPEN Summit for Success share tips on selling to the government.

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