Monday, September 8, 2008

Who’s Selling Your Products on GSA Advantage? You’d Better Keep Tabs…

A client of mine recently faced a problem. A company had added my client’s products to its GSA Schedule contract and put them up on GSA Advantage, GSA’s e-commerce site.

However, not only did this company not get my client’s permission to do so, my client had never even heard of this company!

One initial reaction might be, "So what? This just provides more feet on the street and more possible sales through the channel." Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

A Group 70 IT GSA Schedule contractor that acts as a dealer needs to obtain a "Letter of Supply" from the manufacturer. This letter guarantees a source of supply and, among other things, provides certifications about the country of origin, Trade Agreements Act, etc.

Somehow, this "rogue reseller" was able to add my client’s products to a GSA Schedule without this letter, most likely due to lax oversight by the GSA Contracting Officer.

From my client’s perspective, this was a very bad situation. The reseller had never been trained on the products, had no ability to provide pre-sale technical support, and did not have any access to warranty and repair services. If a sale by this "rogue reseller" went sour, my client's brand name would be unfairly tarnished.

The reseller was even listing products my client no longer manufactured! If the reseller received an order for these products, there was no way it could be fulfilled.

My client realized the damage that could be done, and sent the unauthorized reseller a certified letter demanding the immediate removal of the products. The reseller complied, and the problem was fixed…for now.

However, I’m beginning to see this as a persistent problem.

Manufacturers must monitor GSA Advantage and look for unauthorized resellers if they want to maintain control of their federal sales channel, maintain pricing integrity and minimize the risk to their brand equity.

Take a few minutes and check GSA Advantage. You might be shocked at what you see.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Data Mining and the Schedule Sales Query System

The GSA Schedule Sales Query, located at, is an underutilized resource that can provide tremendously valuable market intelligence when used the right way.

It provides a wide array of "snapshot" reports, such as contractor sales totals or total spending under certain types of contracts (such as the Group 70 IT Schedule), all for a specific fiscal year.

Combining these reports allows you to get to the heart of data mining: manipulating large amounts of data into meaningful information you can use to increase sales.

If you run and combine the right reports you can:

  • see the Schedule contract sales for all companies in your industry over the past 7 years,
  • determine which companies have ascended or descended, and
  • see how the percentage of GSA Schedule dollars spent with your industry has changed over time.

When this information is combined with a knowledge of your industry and competition, it can yield powerful results showing the long-term market behavior of your competition and the Government. It can even help you decide whether the GSA Schedule is the right contract vehicle for you to use.

Here's a screenshot showing what reports you can run (click on the picture for a larger version):
The information is there and free for the taking. I encourage you to explore it and use it to help understand the competitive landscape.

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