ASBIC finds winning formula in teamwork
Small businesses on Alliant SB move past competition
Many small businesses struggle to get face-to-face interviews with potential government customers. Agency officials simply don’t have time to talk with every small business that has a product or service to sell.
Recognizing this problem, the Alliant Small Business Industry Council (ASBIC) created outreach teams that represent all 73 companies on the Alliant SB contract. When the teams meet with agency officials, their representatives promote the entire contract, not individual companies. Their goal is to educate officials about the Alliant SB program and the capabilities of all contract holders to help agencies meet their needs for information technology services.
So far, ASBIC has created 14 outreach teams that are organized by agency or community of interest, such as the Army, Department of Agriculture, or federal business opportunities in Colorado. Alliant SB contract holders can join any of the teams, which meet together and develop a strategy for marketing the contract. However, just three team members typically participate in a meeting so that potential customers are not overwhelmed by a large number of contractors.
“For many smaller companies, getting into an agency and speaking to an official is a tough task. Some officials won’t talk to us individually,” said ASBIC Chair Nancy Suslov, director of customer relationships for ActioNet, an Alliant SB contract holder. “But if a team leader can say, 'I’m the chair of the Army team representing 73 ASBIC primes,' we get a little more attention.”
After the meetings, team members write up the results, which are shared with all 73 industry partners.
Suslov said that members of the outreach teams undergo training before they participate in customer meetings to ensure that they understand the rules about how to operate, such as representing all of the contract holders and sharing information with them. “There’s a spirit of good will among contractors working on the outreach teams,” she said.
To help promote the Alliant SB program, ASBIC also has created a Technology Forum Program highlighting the contractors’ capabilities in areas such as health IT, financial management IT, cybersecurity and cloud computing. The forums bring together potential customers and the Alliant SB companies that have expertise in these areas.
Currently, about half of the Alliant SB contractors participate actively in the outreach and forum programs, but the numbers are increasing as companies see the results of these efforts. These programs have already helped steer procurements to Alliant SB as well as garner additional meetings with customers.
“The successes are beginning to stack up,” Suslov said.