The Myth of Pre-Solicitation Vendor Gatherings


“Industry days and similar events attended by multiple vendors are of low value to industry and the government because industry won’t provide useful information in front of competitors, and the government doesn’t release new information.”  So says one of the myths the White House’s procurement policy chief is trying to bust.

Daniel Gordon, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, has written a memo to procurement leadership throughout the federal government in an effort to debunk that and nine other myths.  Per our initial post on the topic, we’re addressing several of them one-by-one.  The “industry days” myth is a good one.

Gordon says well-organized industry days, as well as pre-solicitation and pre-proposal conferences, are valuable opportunities for both government and potential vendors.  We’re going to agree.  For government, these events provide an opportunity to communicate the same information at the same time to an array of interested parties.  They also serve as “attention getters”, somewhat similar to a marketing event.

For vendors, these events serve as a good means for getting information.  But, some of the most valuable information doesn’t necessarily come from the mouths of the government people at the front of the room.  For example, you’ll be able to see who else is interested in a procurement.  You’ll get an opportunity to size up your competition.  And, these events can be a good way to scout out potential partners.  However, you’ll only be in the partner hunt if you’ve got something of value to offer.  In fact, if you don’t have something of value to offer, then skip the meeting.

If Dan Gordon has his way, there will be more of these meetings conducted on-line.  In his memo, he suggests a strategy of using web-based technology to expand the reach of such meetings.  That may be fine, but if you’re really interested in the procurement and have something of value to offer, I suggest you be there in person.  You may find that the hallway conversations with other vendors there will lead to valuable teaming relationships.

All the best,

Rick

By the way, check out our book “Seven Myths of Selling to Government“, oddly enough published about the same time Dan Gordon published his set of myths.  Different perspectives, but you’ll see some similarities.

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