One of the common areas I work with sales organizations on is selling to government entities. Government entities vary from very large, such as state and federal level, to much smaller such as state run hospitals and libraries. What individuals often fail to realize is that the process to selling to both is fairly similar, with several key differences.
In general, public organizations use the request for proposal (RFP) or invitation to bid (IFB) in order to purchase products and services at all levels of the government. Although there are other process variations that state governments use, RFPs and IFBs comprise the majority. RFPs are used when the purchasing organization believes that there are nuances in making a purchase decision, and price is less of the driving factor behind the purchase. RFPs are used for purchases where some degree of discretion or creativity is necessary to provide a solution (e.g., consulting services). IFBs are often used when the purchasing organization feels that price is the only thing that matters when making a purchase decision. IFBs are most often used to purchase goods and services that are viewed as homogeneous across suppliers (e.g., pens, furniture).
What salespeople often fail to realize is how important RFP response proposals are to the buying process. In many cases, buyers are screening suppliers (and even making selections) solely based on RFP responses. My current work and research focuses on how salespeople can use nuances of the RFP process to their advantage when selling to the government.
If you have questions about the RFP process or selling to the government feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!