Federal buying season is here and it’s unlike any other, presenting great opportunities for the value-added reseller (VAR) community. The fiscal year is coming to a close at the end of September, and federal agencies are expected to spend an additional $200 billion dollars in this last quarter alone. Yet, with many VARs and government contractors working remotely due to COVID-19, this year will be historic in more than one way.
The EDGE360 editorial team recently connected with Ed Somers, Vice President of Public Sector and Vertical Markets at SYNNEX, to get his take on how this federal buying season is shaping up and what advice he has for partners looking to make a big impact in September.
“In talking to our partners and resellers, they anticipated a very strong close to the federal buying season,” Somers told us. “Over the past few years, spending has been spread across each of the quarters, but this year, there was $600 billion in discretionary funding with two hundred of it left to spend in the final quarter.”
This additional funding, on top of regular budgets equates to a fast-paced September for VARs and their distribution partners, like SYNNEX Comstor, who will be working around the clock to ensure partners get the best pricing, financing, and order specifications in.
One major area of focus for IT spending for these federal agencies is around IT modernization and digital transformation. The pandemic has recently shined a light on the need for remote technologies and infrastructure to support remote work environments, Somers highlighted. “In this new environment, cybersecurity continues to be a top priority. Recent numbers have shown that there was a 600 percent increase in malicious emails since the pandemic.”
While many agencies are bringing employees back into the office, there will continue to be a hybrid model that requires secure, stable infrastructure that allows for anytime, anywhere access. As a result, IT modernization efforts have been forced to speed up.
For partners that are looking to connect with federal agencies on their needs, in hopes of solidifying deals before the end of the fiscal year, Somers offered a few recommendations:
Connect Virtually: Somers noted that one of the problems VARs are having is that due to COVID-19, they are not able to get out and meet with their federal customers. “A lot of partners are working from home and they need to think outside of the box and consider how to connect to the customer in a non-traditional way,” Somers advised. This includes phone calls, emails, and video calls, to replace a face-to-face meeting, if necessary. For customers that are in their office, Somers suggested a hybrid approach. “But the biggest point is to stay on top of it and don’t let things slip through the cracks because you are not in your traditional work environment,” Somers advised.
Leverage Contract Vehicles: There has been an upward tick in the usage of contract vehicles, Somers said. He highlighted opportunities to leverage Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), GSA, NASA SEWP, and NITAAC CIO-CS, which makes it easier for federal agencies to procure IT infrastructure and services to more effectively implement IT modernization initiatives. “These GWACS are driving a lot of business and partners need to use them because they are the least restrictive for agencies to use,” Somers said. “Partners can take advantage of the access to the GSA schedules that SYNNEX provides, which allows them to use the contracts to sell and provide the billing, and then we handle all the back-end contract administrative details.”
Tap into Distributor Partners Resources: There are multiple teams and resources available at large distributors like SYNNEX, and Somers recommends that partners “engage early, often, and with the right teams. We have a GSA team that you can engage directly if it’s a GSA contract that a partner is working on.” For anything else, work through the outside sales reps that manage your account. We also have inside sales teams. But ultimately, we are here to help with multiple touch points along the way.”