As the most widely used government contract vehicle, with over $39 billion in annual sales, the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Contract is a valuable tool for maximizing federal contract opportunities. If your company is looking to step into the federal market or expand your federal presence, a GSA MAS Contract can help.
There are two main avenues for approaching the GSA MAS. The first, and most straight-forward approach, is to directly obtain a GSA MAS Contract. The second approach is indirect and involves either placing your products on a reseller’s/ distributor’s GSA MAS Contract, or subcontracting to a company that holds a GSA MAS Contract. Depending upon your company’s circumstances and long-term goals, both options offer their own set of advantages.
To help you decide which path is best for your company, we’ve put together a comparison chart and high-level overview of each option.
GSA MAS vs Channel Partner Comparison
|Direct: Hold a GSA MAS Contract||Indirect: Sell through GSA Channel Partner(s)|
|Your company has privity of contract with the government||No privity of contract with the government|
|Direct contact with clients and prospects||Little to no contact with clients and prospects|
|Flexibility to plan and budget for expansion projects, establish long-term relationships and customer loyalty||Rely on Channel Partner to establish a business case for your services|
|Directly affect profits through control of pricing, terms, and conditions||Channel Partner controls pricing|
|Direct access to procurement opportunities||Reliant on Channel Partner to pursue opportunities|
Direct: Hold a GSA MAS Contract
The most significant difference between the direct and channel option is control. Selling through a GSA channel partner allows your business to avoid some of the administrative responsibilities, such as tracking and reporting sales. However, this relief comes at the cost of relinquishing control over pricing, marketing, and sales.
As a GSA MAS Contract holder, the business you do with the federal government is your business. A direct, open line of communication with existing and potential customers allows you to assess an agency’s needs and adjust your bid to win or retain business. Working directly with agencies also allows you to build your government client list, along with your brand reputation and authority within the industry. Finally, when you sell directly through your own GSA MAS Contract, your profits are not diluted by a third party middleman.
Indirect: Sell through GSA Channel Partner(s)
The channel route may be the best option if your company is just beginning to explore the federal market. Obtaining a GSA MAS Contract can take a few months to well over a year, depending on your resources and experience. Selling through a reseller or distributer who holds a GSA MAS Contract provides a relatively quick path to test the waters and see the demand for your company’s offerings. This route can also be beneficial if your company lacks a sales team with government sales experience. In these cases, channel partners are appealing as they take over some of the administrative burden with sales, as well as some of the marketing process.
However, there are several factors to consider before choosing the channel route. For instance, does the channel partner represent offerings from a competing company? If so, how are these conflict of interest situations addressed? Based on the channel partner’s mark-up, do they benefit more from promoting your competitor’s offering?
It’s important to have a close working relationship with your channel partner. When using a channel partner, your business will not have access to eBuy, GSA’s online Request for Quote (RFQ) system. Your company will be completely reliant on the channel partner to pursue opportunities and present the most effective business case on your behalf. Any business that is won, is won through the channel partner and cannot be claimed as your own. While an agency may be purchasing your product or service, it’s the channel partner that reaps the benefits that come with fostering that relationship.
Should Your Company Obtain a GSA MAS Contract or Use Channel Partners?
In short, Channel Partners offer benefits for companies new to the federal market space. However, companies that plan to maintain a presence in the federal space are more likely to benefit in the long-term from holding their own GSA MAS Contract. Having your own contract allows your company to retain the maximum benefit of government sales by building your brand reputation and maximizing sales.