Industry Q & A

We are a successful company selling med-surg disposable products with about 300 employees, and believe we have a superior product line compared to our competition.  But we can’t seem to win business in any Government Account Hospitals. We think our two biggest competitors are beating us because they can claim they are a small business and contracting agents choose them because of this designation.  How do we compete?
Mike Johansson, Orange County, CA

Answer - You may be correct about why you are not winning any federal accounts. Federal government medical centers such as VAs, Army Navy Air Force medical centers have socio-economic goals and objectives to meet. Contracting officers must purchase a mandated percentage of products and services from entities designated as small businesses (those who have less than 50 employees). Also, they must purchase a percentage from veteran owned, disabled veteran, minority owned & companies located in a hub zone.  One of the ways you can compete for this business is to link yourself to a partner who has such a designation.  The government encourages you and other medium & large corporations to look for potential other ways to distribute or sell your product thru partnering with a small, minority owned, veteran owned or disabled veteran owned business within a hub zone.  Choosing a strategic partner that meets these requirements would improve your chances of winning at bid submission. This would require a government accounts professional to assist you, but it can be successfully done and with lucrative results.

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Mr. Leonard Nall

Mr. Nall has more than 25 years experience in the government healthcare contracting, sales and procurement industry through working with VA Hospitals & Clinics, Army, Navy and Air Force Medical Centers, Indian Health Services and other federal healthcare delivery systems.  This includes expertise in the areas of radiology, peri-operative services, central supply, sterile processing, biomedical engineering, dialysis, interior design, new construction, E.R., ICU, disposables, furniture and all facets of the federal procurement process.  He has provided his talents in account management, sales team training and strategic planning to Johnson & Johnson,
Getinge, Agfa Healthcare Div of Bayer, Allergan, and was the
Government Accounts
Mgr. at GE Healthcare
for 11-years. Leonard
has lead sales teams
in winning nearly
1 billion dollars in GSA,
DSCP, BPA and Open
Market government
We are a medical device manufacturer and service company.  Do government hospitals like the VAs and Army Medical Centers require the lowest prices that our company offers on bids? We stopped trying to work with government medical centers because when we give them the lowest prices on everything, then our profit margin is too low to make it worth the effort.

Darcy McKinsey, Chicago, Illinois

Answer - This is a very mis-understood myth. If you have a GSA Contract, then federal government hospitals like VAs, Army, Navy & Air force Medical Centers require that you extend equal to or better pricing to them that you extend to your chosen Most Favored Customer (MFC). If you have no other GSA Contract or designated MFC, then your company can charge general market prices.  Winning government business in the medical market is challenging and takes some experience to know how to position bid prices at the right level for each potential client.  This does not, however, mean you must always offer the lowest price.
My company has a unique product. Do we need a GSA or other type of government contract to be successful selling to the VA?

Jason Turner, Charlotte, NC

Answer - No, a GSA or other federal contract is not necessary for you to be successful. It will, however, take a sales plan with a targeted approach that focuses on the unique features & benefits of product in order to sell to these facilities. Companies can be very successful selling to the VAs with no government contract at all.

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Growth Strategies for Government Sales in Healthcare
I own a small brewery and distillery making beer, wine and homemade maple syrup.  I've been thinking of trying to get on the FSS, but have questions about what the record keeping and reporting requirements are, as well as any potential penalties that might result from infractions of Government rules and regulations.  I am a woman owned small business with total annual sales less than $100,000.

Julie Rausch, Michigan

Answer -  Unfortunately, your ability to be awarded a GSA Agreement on the FSS is extremely limited. While your intentions of providing Veterans with the finest maple syrup, wine and beer may be very noble your company balance sheet will be thoroughly questioned.  You will need CPA certified proof that you are a viable company with the manufacturing capabilities to produce your product in mass quantity.  Also, you will be asked to choose a Most Favored Customer (MFC) of which your price to the federal government will be based on. Local stores, flea markets and taverns will be severely questioned and probably not allowed. Thus, I believe that your ability to even be awarded an FSS is nearly impossible at this point.  However, you could try and link up with a food distributor that is already on the FSS and sell your product thru that distributor.  I wish you well.