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SAM Registration – the First Stop on the Road to Federal Sales

Tips for Registering on

In our previous post, we spoke with Charles Motte of the DCSBDC to learn how SBDC’s help emerging, small businesses. Today, we talk with Charles again about the first step to doing business with the federal government – registering on the System for Award Management (SAM).

Role of SAM in Selling to the Government

The System for Award Management is a central repository that eliminates the need to repeatedly provide agencies with core company data, as well as standard representations and certifications (Reps & Certs). In order to do business with any federal agency, a company must register on SAM ( and update existing records annually.

Government agencies will use SAM to validate your information; they will not use the system to find prospective vendors. “The government sales industry is still predominantly relationship based.” explained Charles. “Agencies are risk averse. Companies need to take the time to gain an understanding of the agency’s need. It’s about sitting down with an agency face to face, developing a dialog with that agency, and reviewing your capabilities with them.”

Tips for SAM Registration

Below are some tips Charles has for small businesses that need to register on SAM:

  • Read through the website thoroughly – that includes the help section and user guides.
  • Utilize SBA resource partners, like the DC SBDC or DC PTAC, to better understand the questions that are asked throughout the registration process.
  • Recognize that government contracting is a language in and of itself – embrace it and develop a familiarity with acronyms. The language you see in SAM will be used throughout the govcon industry.

Do you need help to register on SAM?

The complete registration process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If you have the bandwidth and the ability to set aside a block of time, the process should be manageable in-house. As a company, you could submit the required SAM information online in approximately 1-3 hours if:

  • You have your core company data gathered
  • You understand the clauses within the Representations and Certifications

Once submitted, the review and validation process will range from under a week, to about three weeks.

Charles recommends utilizing resources, like your local SBDC. “While an SBDC will not answer the registration questions on your behalf, they will help you develop an understanding of the questions and the nature of the representations and certifications. An SBA resource partner can also help you evaluate if you need third party assistance.”

SAM Registration With Third Party Assistance

If you decide to hire third party assistance to complete the SAM registration process, do your due diligence. Charles suggests reviewing 3-4 companies and conducting a comparative analysis of their fee versus scope of support. He also recommends checking with an SBA resource partner e.g., SBDC, PTAC, SCORE to see if they are familiar with the company you are considering.

It is important to remember, SAM registration is free! When searching online, be cognizant of the website address and keep in mind, a government site should end in “.gov”, not “.com” or “.org”. The official website for SAM registration is

You may receive email solicitations regarding SAM registration or renewal. Apply the .gov rule to the sender’s email address. An email address that ends in anything other than “.gov” is most likely a solicitation.

Remember, unless your company wants to hire a third party to complete the registration on your behalf, there is no cost renew or register on SAM.