Win Government Contracts – A Case Study

A Case Study On How To Win Government Contracts

How To Win Government ContractsIf you’re like most business owners that want to learn how to win government contracts or win small business contracts, you have probably already spoken to several non-profits in your local region who are funded to help small businesses win small business contracts.

You’ve also probably already attended a handful of conferences and expos, paid for a couple of webinars, or purchased a dozen government books on how to win government contracts.

Yet, a very large number of companies fail to crack the code on how to win government contracts and increase their sales.

Last year, RSM Federal started working with a company that wanted to learn how to win government contracts. If you’ve visited, you’ve seen hundreds of testimonials and this is from one of them. However, we don’t want to impact their competitive position in the market. So for the purpose of this article, we’ll simply call this company Axim Technologies. Axim is small business and SBA 8a Certified with eight employees.

Preparing to win small business contracts

When we first started working with Axim Technologies, they were focused on commercial sales. They had a basic understanding of how to sell to the government but with little success. They spent a year working with various small business specialists but did not win any contracts.

Another of our clients told them to call us. We started working together and during the first three months, we helped Axim Technologies with the following:

  1. Two-day onsite Master Series Government Workshop tailored specifically to their company and the services they provide. Many coaching and consulting firms provide workshops on how to win government contracts.
  2. Researched and identified which government agencies buy what they sell, how much they buy, and how often they buy it. An overview of these tools is outlined in the article Government contract data – where to search.
  3. Designed and built a government marketing, prospecting, and sales strategy
  4. Developed a relationship and communication strategy
  5. Facilitated website updates with a detailed government landing page
  6. Recommended a CRM review for pipeline management
  7. Provided all of the templates, tools, and step-by-step strategies via the Federal Access platform.

The Capability Statement

Anyone that has targeted the government for three months has heard, “You need a capability statement.” It’s simply a one page marketing slick. What’s unfortunate is that most small business specialists and consultants treat the capability statement as a critical sales tool. It’s not. It’s important but your focus is not the products or services you sell. It’s communicating the value your solutions provide to your clients.

You’ll notice that a capability statement is not specifically listed in the bullets above. Yes, we helped them with their capability statement but the capability statement is a byproduct of the other marketing and sales activities. RSM Federal runs a platform called Federal Access. It has a dozen templates for your capability statement. Don’t pay a consultant hundreds of dollars to do it for you.

All of the above activities included dozens of sub-activities but that’s not the focus of today’s article. What’s important are the results and how the integration of the above activities were designed to achieve success.

First we’ll outline the results and then we’ll discuss how the integration of these activities opened new doors and provided competitive advantage.

The results

  • Built a government sales strategy based on who buys their solutions, how often they buy, and how much they spend.
  • A government sales strategy that included a list of companies with prior government contracts for teaming.
  • The sales strategy included:
    • Target list for government agencies and government teaming partners;
    • How to communicate value, differentiation, and commercial and / or government past performance;
    • How to price and differentiate their proposals.
  • Developed a prospecting plan that focused on pre-acquisition (before RFPs or RFQs are released).
  • Developed new messaging to communicate expertise in the federal market and their industry that provided a solid perception of maturity, expertise, and trust.
  • In the first eight months they exceeded their annual quota by 43%.
    • Awarded two contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs, their largest federal contracts to date.
    • Awarded a contract with the Department of Defense.
    • Joined a team that was awarded a $5 Billion government multiple award contract (MAC).

In little more than six months after initiating their sales strategies, how did Axim Technologies win these these large and small business contracts?

How to win government contracts

Axim Technologies did not simply go to their local small business specialist to learn “how to sell” to the government to win small business contracts. They stopped responding to every RFP or RFQ they saw on FedBizOpps and did not overly rely on the emails they received every morning from their bid-matching system.

These are the reasons why so many companies fail to successfully win small business contracts. Yet, this is exactly what most companies are told to do.

Most companies have great solutions. The problem is that they don’t understand the market, don’t have the necessary strategies, and are unable to “apply what they’ve learned.”

Unlike most companies, Axim Technologies focused on business strategies, not bid-matching systems or capability statements, to win government contracts.

If it were as simple as meeting with a small business specialist or searching Google, everyone would successfully win government contracts.

Successful companies immerse themselves in understanding the market and picking the right strategies to differentiate and communicate competitive advantage.

What Axim Technologies learned in the workshop was streamlined and built into their business development activities. Axim Technologies’ value and the strategies they utilized were integrated across their public-facing tools and platforms. This only took two months to implement.

Before Axim Technologies took these steps, the president of the company set a sales quota of $300,000 for government sales. It was RSM Federal’s responsibility to help them get there. Government sales was still a new concept.

In the first eight months, they won $430,000 in government contracts.

While other companies sell what they sell, the approach to how they differentiated and communicated their value was more important.

It’s more than simply creating a government capability statement, updating your website, having a government landing page, or writing proposals. Success is based on how you communicate the value that your products or services provide.

Contacted by Department of Veterans Affairs

Three months ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs reached out to Axim about two small business contracts. We strategized on how to position and win these opportunities.

Although the incumbent had performed outstanding work, the acquisition strategy did not allow the incumbent to compete for the follow-on contracts.

We called the incumbent (who was less than thrilled to hear from us). However, we developed a strategy that proved to be successful and mutually beneficial. When Axim Technologies negotiated with the incumbent, they provided a win-win solution.

Axim Technologies was willing to give-up revenue that most companies would never consider. However, it guaranteed an exclusive teaming agreement. The competition lost access to the incumbent.  Axim won both small business contracts.

In this case, it’s less about what you sell and more about how you position with the government and with your teaming partners.

How did the government contracting officer know to call Axim Technologies? Axim had been talking to the government for the past three months as part of their sales strategy.

Contacted by a NASA SEWP Prime Contractor

In 2018 an incumbent NASA SEWP contractor, one of only 45 primes (there are now 143) on the contract, reached out to Axim. SEWP was being recompeted. There was a requirement in the RFP that was new and the prime needed to add a new subcontractor to the team.

Why did they contact Axim Technologies? Because Axim’s website communicated a mature understanding of the federal market. That was the start. That same day, a conference call was scheduled and the very first question Axim asked was “Are you formally asking us to be a sub-contractor on SEWP?” They said yes.

Within 24 hours, the two companies signed a teaming agreement for one of the largest GWACs in the government market. Their website and how it differentiated Axim’s value was critical.

The ability to communicate in government terms was critical. When they asked Axim if they had the capability to do the work, the answer was more than yes. . . it was “of course. It’s very similar to work we did for a commercial client last month.

It’s more than simply what you sell. It’s how you position. You need to communicate actual and perceived maturity as an organization. The team that Axim joined won the contract and is now competing on task orders.

Why did the prime contractor look at Axim’s website? They were doing due diligence on potential teaming partners because Axim had already reached out to them. It was part of their teaming strategy. That’s how you win government contracts.

Educate Yourself Beyond The ‘Basics’

There are many companies that understand the basics of winning small business contracts, attend a few government events and webinars, and still “don’t know what they don’t know. . .

It’s less about what you sell and more about how you position with the government and your teaming partners.

The most important thing you can do to learn how to win government contracts is to educate yourself. You need to go beyond the basic “how to do business with the government.”

The basics of selling to the government are provided by hundreds of organizations, many of which are free services. They all provide solid value. Selling to the government and giving yourself a higher than average chance for success requires more than a basic understanding.

An Insiders Guide To Winning Government Contracts

If you really want to understand how to approach government sales, Joshua Frank wrote the Amazon #1 Bestselling book “An Insider’s Guide to Winning Government Contracts – Real World Strategies, Lessons, and Recommendations. Reviewed by small and large business owners, government contracting officers, and small business specialists, you will learn how to bridge business strategy with business development strategy. Available on Amazon.

Education is a common business paradigm regardless of market or industry. It requires immersion and utilization of proven techniques and strategies. These include prospecting and sales, marketing, teaming, proposal development, and back-office operations.

If you want to see all the templates and sales strategies that Axim tailored for their business, you want to take a look at Federal Access.

It starts with the owner. It comes down to business acumen. If you become a student of government sales, you’re likelihood of learning how to win government contracts will be much higher. When you wonder how companies win government contracts. . . now you know. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to talk to us.


We can help you win more business

If you’re not sure what direction to go
– or –
you know exactly what you need, let’s talk.


Talk To Us


Joshua Frank is the Founder and Managing Partner of RSM Federal, a government coaching and business-acceleration strategy firm that represents small and large businesses in accelerating the education and processes necessary to win government contracts. For more information and videos about RSM Federal, please visit

SBA Small Business Goals

SBA Small Business Goals

SBA Small Business Goals

Which agencies focus on hitting Small Business Goals?

SBA Small Business Goals
Most companies look at the current year or previous year and ask themselves, “Which agencies use my socio-economic status?” RSM Federal recommends that you look at this from a multi-year perspective; to see trends in the market for the respective agencies. These tables contain the major agencies as tracked by SBA.

But important point – just because an agency didn’t meet their percentage, doesn’t mean they have failed to support small business. For example, in 2017, DoD hit 22.5% of it’s overall small business goal. It’s red because the goal is 23%. Yes, they missed their target by .5% but that’s still more than $50 Billion that went to small businesses!

Clearly DoD works with small business. So don’t simply take the results from the SBA Small Business Goals and make a decision. Use this information in combination with the agency’s propensity (for what you sell – who buys, how much to do they buy, and how often do they buy it) before identifying which agencies should be on your annual target list.

To pull and consolidate this data into a usable format takes a true masochist (or someone with passion and patience 🙂

Small Business Goals

sba small business goals 2007 to current


Woman Owned Small Business Goals

sba wosb goals 2007 to current


8(a) Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Goals

sba 8a minority goals 2007 to current


The Government Sales Manual

Book on Government Sales - How To Sell To The Government


Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Goals

sba sdvosb goals 2007 to current


Veteran Owned Small Business Goals

sba vosb goals 2007 to current


HUBZone Small Business Goals

sba hubzone goals 2007 to current


We can help you win more business

If you’re not sure what direction to go
– or –
you know exactly what you need, let’s talk.


Market Your Government Small Business Certifications

You Don’t Win Government Contracts With Your Certification. . .

How To Market Your 8a Certification - RSM FederalSmall business certifications, including 8a certification (for socially and economically disadvantaged), woman owned small business (WOSB), veteran owned small business (VOSB), service disabled veteran owned small business (SDVOSB) and Hubzone – are all powerful differentiators. But that’s it. They are only differentiators.

My team has worked with thousands of companies and this is a common challenge and misconception.

Tell me if this sounds familiar?

  • Business cards where the logos for your woman-owned, veteran-owned, HUBZone, or 8a certification is just as large as your corporate logo?
  • When you look at the homepage of your website, your small business certifications, your socio-economic statuses, have logos that are built into the top graphic of your homepage or they are elsewhere on the page… and they are at least an inch in diameter?
  • Your capability statement (line card, project list, marketing slick, etc.) shows logos for your WOSB or 8a certification at the top of the page where it’s the first thing you see when you look at it.
  • Your website and marketing materials start with, “We’re a small woman-owned business that provides…” or “We’re an 8a, veteran-owned small business that provides…”
  • When you walk into a meeting with a prospect or potential teaming partner, you start your 45 second introduction with “We’re an 8a or woman owned or service disabled veteran owned… etc.”

In general, this is the norm for many small businesses. I’m going to explain why it’s wrong, from a business perspective, why it minimizes the value of what you sell, and how you should communicate your small business certification. Don’t take my word for it. Our Federal Access members have won more than $2 Billion in small business government contracts the last five years using these strategies.

Yes, I know. . . this is what you’ve been told to do. Small business offices, your mentors, your colleagues, consultants, and various non-profits all tell you to, “Put it front and center! There are federally mandated set-aside percentages for your company! Larger companies and potential partners have sub-contracting plans that require that they team with companies just like yours! Use your status!”

This does NOT make sense and I’ll explain why.

Softly Communicate Your 8a Certification or Other Status

For the last five years, I’ve supported the SBA’s Emerging Leader’s Program. As part of that support, I work alongside various state and federal contracting officers and organizations that focus on supporting the small business community and small business certification.

During one class, I made the point that regardless of market (commercial or government), you need to “softly” position your small business certifications. The Director of one of our local non-profits, that focuses on helping small businesses get into government, very forcefully told the class that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I sat there and waited for someone to ask why? Eventually someone asked me to explain and when I did, every business owner in the class had their expectations realigned. For the Director of our local non-profit – it’s not her fault. It’s how she was trained, how she trains her counselors, and it’s why most small businesses start most introductions with something similar to, “Hi, I’m Josh and we are an 8a, woman owned small business that provides these services.”

Think about this:

A prospect (government or commercial) buys from you because of the value you provide. It’s not because of your products or services. There are hundreds of companies that sell what you sell. It’s not because of your status or that you have an 8a certification. In fact, you could have two or three small business certifications but if you don’t convince your prospect that you’re competent, your woman-owned, veteran owned, or 8a certification just doesn’t matter.

Your small business certification is not as strong a differentiator as you’ve been led to believe. Sure, it’s a differentiator but you don’t win contracts because of it.

It’s not what you sell. It’s the value of the products or services you provide. It’s not the statuses or small business certifications that your company holds. Those are just regulatory buckets. Yes, the government can sole source if you have 8a certification. Yes, the government can sole source 8m (woman-owned small business) contracts – but you can read an earlier post about how unlikely and difficult it is to actually win an 8m sole source contract.

Your company will NOT win a set-aside contract if you don’t convince the prospect that the value of what you provide is outstanding.

A prospect buys from you because of the value you provide. It’s not what you sell. It’s not the product or services you sell. It’s not your small business certification.

Now some of you are thinking, “Oh come on Josh! This is just semantics.” To some extent, you’re correct. But from a business perspective, this is more than semantics. It’s about how you approach the market, position your company with prospects and partners, and how you differentiate and facilitate a level of maturity that is not commonly found in small business.

What Happens When You Focus On Value?

One of our Members asked for help preparing for a meeting with a senior contracting officer at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. We discussed how to approach the meeting and how to follow-up. Most important, we told them not to mention their status or small business certifications during their 45 second introduction. (They have 8a certification and their woman-owned.) Jump forward a couple days. The meeting was going well, the business owner gave a short overview of the company, immediately took control of the discussion, and about 30 minutes into the meeting, it came out that she had multiple small business certifications.

The contracting officer leaned forward and said, “We have contracting goals that require that we work with companies like yours. Why didn’t you tell me you had woman-owned and 8a certification?

She said, “Because that’s now who we are. That’s not the value we provide.” The contracting officer leaned back and said, “That’s the best answer I’ve ever heard.”

Until that point in the meeting, the business owner focused on collecting intelligence and communicating the value of her products and services. There are several other techniques and strategies that had a role during this meeting but that’s for another time.

It’s not what you sell. It’s not your small business certification. It’s the qualifiable and quantifiable value that you communicate to your prospects and partners.

Don’t worry, you’re small business certifications will eventually come out in every discussion. But you should never lead with it! Do business developers for Northrup Grumman or Lockheed Martin introduce themselves as, “Hi, I’m John with Lockheed and we’re a large business that provides…”? Of course not. They rely on their past performance and the perceived value of their company and its capabilities and past performance. Yes, we all know they’re a large company but why do only small businesses introduce themselves with their size?

Yes – this is commonly accepted and taught to most small companies. But from a business perspective, it makes little sense.

This is why you don’t put your status on the front of your business card; why you don’t put it front and center on your homepage, and why you should stop introducing your company as a status. Don’t worry, I’m not saying to not communicate your status. It will always come out. That’s how the market operates. But you don’t lead with it! If you follow these recommendations, you’ll win more contracts because you’re focused on communicating your value.

You’re not a status. You’re a company that provides value.

Are You Ready To Get Certified?

If you’re not sure if you qualify
– or –
you’re ready to start your certification, let’s talk.

Talk To Us


Joshua Frank is the Founder and Managing Partner at RSM Federal, a federal consulting and business strategy firm that provides companies with the templates, processes, and strategies for winning government contracts. For more information about RSM Federal, please visit

Communicating Value Through Call To Action

Double Your Sales – The Power of Communicating Value Through a Call To Action

Article Published in Franchising USA, August 2016

RSM Federal - Communicating Value Through Call To ActionWhether your franchise is commodity or service-based, sell sandwiches, cut hair, or perform disaster restoration, you want to think in terms of how you qualify and quantify your value. We’re going to discuss how to communicate value and integrate with what marketers call a Call to Action (CTA). We’re going to discuss this, step by step.

There are two parts to this strategy. The first is understanding how to communicate the value of what you provide. The second is providing part of this value, for free, as your primary call to action. This is then followed with what we call a “trip-wire” for a second call to action.

You never provide more than one call to action at a time. It’s not overly complicated. We’ll use an example so you can tailor it to your franchise. Like anything else in business, it will take some of your time but it’s well worth it.

Let’s consider a Home Inspection franchise. Remember that these techniques and strategies are industry agnostic. No matter what you sell, product or service, you can tailor these strategies to your business.

One target market for home inspection companies is real estate. Home buyers (if they’re smart), will hire someone to inspect their future home. What do most inspection companies do for marketing? They have a simple website that outlines their services, perhaps how many years they’ve been doing this, and their contact information.

Maybe their website is the first you find in a Google search. They may have a dollar or percentage discount for their services. They might say that the discount is only good through the end of the month to create a sense of urgency. How likely are they to accelerate their sales? Not likely. Their competitors have the same or similar offerings.

Instead, think about the value provided. I want you to think about your industry and the value you provide every day that you may take for granted. There are probably a dozen issues that you’ll consistently find during a home inspection. Three of these are so common, that 90% of the  houses have these problems. Now imagine that a prospect visits your website and finds the following:

Free Download 
“12 Most Common Inspection Issues That New Home Buyers Fail to Identify and 4 Inspection Checks Every Home Inspector Should Do For You.”
Click here

The first paragraph of the document is a part of your sales pitch:

“ABC Home Inspection has been helping new home buyers avoid costly repairs for more than 20 years. Buying a new home is an exciting experience and your focus will be on signing the contract and planning your move. But an inspection that fails to find all the issues can cost you thousands after you’ve moved in. 84% of home buyers are surprised with an average of $3,100 in repairs within 30 days of move-in.

So before you hire a home inspector, quickly look at these 12 most common issues and the 4 checks you can do yourself before you even hire an inspector. We don’t just inspect your home, we protect against future costs. Since 1996, we’ve saved new home buyers more than $1 Million in avoidable repair costs that should have been identified during the initial inspection and paid for by the seller.

(Author’s note: the numbers and percentages in this paragraph are not real. Just an example of the type of metrics you want to use.)

The title of the free download and the opening paragraph of the article are packed full of numbers, percentages, and ROI. When you list the inspection issues and the 4 checks, continue to describe via value and metrics. It’s not what you sell. It’s not the cost. It’s not the features. It’s the value you provide.

Now, the second part of the strategy is to provide the document as a call to action. What good is providing something of value if you have no mechanism to identify which prospects are interested? Before they download, they should be required to enter their first name and email address. That’s it. If your call to action is strong enough, you’ll get people to download. And now you have prospects you can immediately engage.

When the prospect clicks the button for ‘Free Download’ they are taken to a second page where they can download the document. But in addition to the download is a second CTA! It’s proven
that if someone is willing to enter their information, they are more likely to do it again. For the home inspection company, perhaps CTA2 is a 20% coupon for services.

Rethink your value. Design a strategy that collects your prospects information. It’s industry agnostic. How can you differentiate from your competition and accelerate your sales?

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Joshua Frank is an author, trainer, and consultant with 25 years in corporate, government, and military organizations. He is a leading authority on marketing and sales and speaks nationally on
business acceleration. He specializes in the development and implementation of techniques and strategies required to position, differentiate, build, and accelerate competitive advantage to
wining new business. Josh’s clients have won more than $1.6 Billion in new business since 2011. He is currently Managing Partner for RSM Federal, a business coaching and advisory firm that helps companies accelerate their revenue in the federal and commercial markets. Josh also serves on the board of directors for the St. Louis Veterans Business Resource Center. Featured in hundreds of online and print publications, he holds a Masters in Management of Information Systems and an MBA from the Walker School of Business.