State and local government bids and RFPs are notoriously difficult to locate. Unlike the federal government, which conducts most purchasing through GSA schedules or FedBizOpps, state and local bids are located in a great number of sources throughout the internet -- on government webpages, public works pages, 3rd party contracted websites, and even in newspaper classifieds. 

To locate these bids, you may want to keep an eye on newspaper classifieds or the websites of specific government entities nearest to you. If your business operates only in North Dakota, this is easy and takes less than an hour a day. However, if your business operates in a larger state, across multiple states, or if you don't have about an hour per day to spend, a bid notification service is a cost and time-effective solution to reduce the burden of finding these valuable and often overlooked opportunities. 

So I've identified a qualified lead, but what now? 

First, verify the qualifications and deadlines related to the bid in the bid document or request for proposal. 

Important things to look out for: 

Ensure that your company qualifies for the bid. Some bids are set-aside for minority, woman, or veteran-owned businesses. Also, some are reserved for qualified small businesses. 

Look for any listed pre-bid conferences and take note of any mandatory ones. The sign-in sheets for these conferences will give you an idea of which and how many companies are planning to place a bid. 

Do you need to be a registered vendor to place a bid? 

After verifying these initial qualifications, it's wise to keep track of a entity's website where the bid was posted to view any addendums or amendments. Some entities will notify you of changes if you have expressed interest in the bid already. Checking on this website every few days in the bid process might be wise and to your company's benefit. 

Some government entities will post sign-in sheets for a pre-bid conference or have a utility to view past awards. This information can be used as valuable intelligence to develop a competitive bid. If the entitiy does not post this information online, you may sometimes request it from the agency procurement officer by email, phone, or a formal FOIA request. This contact should be your main point of contact for any questions related to the bid, the bid document, specifications, addenda, and amendments. This information should be in the bid document or the website. 

Your proposal is your sales pitch for your company. Ensure that you are thorough and that you meet requirements and give a competitive yet profitable bid. Listing why you are the best candidate is an effective route too, as sometimes contacts are not awarded to the lowest bidder. 

There are many resources on the web for filling out response templates that will be for another post. The most valuable resource for questions of this sort is your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). You can locate your local PTAC through their website. 

Finally, it is important to remember that companies often lose more government contracts than they win.

BidPrime is an online subscription service providing federal, state, and local government bids and RFPs and real-time notification of new government leads and bidding opportunities. Subscriptions start at a monthly fee of $29.99 to receive targeted government bid alerts via email and track real-time bid opportunities