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Home > About BNE > Press Room > 2011 Archive > June > Are You Ready to Sell to The US Government?

Are You Ready to Sell to The US Government?

Here's how to tell.

Five clues tell you whether pursuing those opportunities could bring your company long term profit...or waste valuable corporate resources.

1. Already doing business in US commercial market. US government customers want the assurance that what they bought will arrive at the right time and place, even if the goods and technical personnel are coming from Canada. That's easier when a company has smoothly-operating procedures for customs and border logistics. Professional services firms also need to have arranged for the appropriate visas or work permits that will allow employees hassle-free border crossings. Furthermore, some contracts require vendors to show a couple years' commercial track record. While those sales don't always have to be in the United States, it helps.

2. Already selling to government in Canada. If you've sold to government in Canada, basic concepts in American procurement will seem familiar. A long sales cycle tied to the timing of the government's fiscal year requires adequate working capital to do the job. A formally-structured competitive process, including contracting ethics, requires by-the-book marketing strategies. A sales force that gains competitive advantage by learning how to leverage the rules for success. The American system is certainly different from Canada's – for one thing, fiscal year-end is September 30th, so the fourth quarter spending frenzy is…when? You'll want to gear up for the marketing surge. A company that's learned the procurement ropes at home knows what to expect in pursuing government business in the United States.

3. Strong government reference accounts. The smaller scale of government in Canada makes it possible to try innovative concepts and solutions – in e-government, for example – fast. A successful Canadian vendor can show an American government prospect something innovative that is proven effective. A Canadian government buyer may have contacts with American government officials with parallel responsibilities. (And similar requirements.. And a much bigger budget.) If your Canadian government client likes the work you have done for her, then ask if she knows, and could introduce you to, her opposite number in the United States.

4. Prepared to grow. Canadian companies who have successfully built their US government business report that one can expect to take as long as two years before you begin to make the sales the return your investment in developing US government clients. A company poised for success is one that has considered a variety of ways to grow, US government markets among them, and is prepared to invest the resources – including time, money, people, and executive commitment – to win.

5. Facing few barriers. Canadian firms have a level playing field in the American government market – for many products and services, and many government departments, but not all. A sound market entry decision includes knowing whether to expect unfettered market access, or some special limitations, or regulations that mean dim prospects. Learn more in NAFTA Chapter 10. (


About the Author
Judy Bradt, Principal & CEO, Summit Insight brings you her experience of nearly 20 years as a specialist in US government contracting, including 15 years as Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC. She has helped over 5000 Canadian companies win over $200 million in US government business. She consults, writes, speaks and teaches for clients in all industries from St John's to Victoria who offer products, services and solutions. Judy can be reached at

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