These frequently asked questions (FAQs) can help you leverage shareable contracts to generate more sales to public entity customers. Want more support? Pavilion can help - get started today.
How do I know if my business has won a shareable contract?
Once suppliers have a better understanding of how shareable contracts work and how they can benefit, the next step is to win a shareable contract. If you’ve already won government contracts, you may be surprised to discover that you’ve already been awarded a shareable contract!
- Review your current contracts for shareable language: Shareable language in the contract and/or solicitation allows other entities to utilize the contract. The legal clauses you’re looking for can come in different forms. Pavilion can also review contracts for shareable language - just send contract documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Search for your company on Pavilion: Pavilion has over 100,000 shareable contracts in its database. You might already have a contract that we’ve tagged as shareable.
How do I get onto a shareable contract?
You either need to be directly awarded a shareable contract or you may be able to sell off a shareable contract as a subcontractor, distributor, or other affiliate of the awarded vendor. Here are some suggested ways to sell through a shareable contract:
Win a shareable contract by responding to a solicitation with shareable language
Many suppliers will aim to be directly awarded a shareable contract by responding to a solicitation that has shareable language. The easiest way to win a shareable contract is to respond to solicitations that already have shareable language included. Consider responding to a solicitation from:
- Local government entities that typically add shareable language by default in their contracts: Some local government entities add shareable language to most of their contracts as a default. Keep an eye out for solicitations from these entities that add shareable language.
- State agencies: State contracts, like those from COMMBUYs in Massachusetts, are often extended to local government entities for use. State solicitations are a great place to start, especially if your coverage area is limited. Some state contracts limit piggybacking to only other entities within the state, while others are less constrained.
- National or regional cooperatives: The major advantage of working with national or regional cooperatives is that they have well-established distribution networks. Since national purchasing cooperatives serve local government members across the country, these cooperatives tend to prefer suppliers that will be able to serve locations across the United States. Suppliers with national distribution capabilities are well set up to be awarded these contracts. Another consideration is that these coops typically charge administrative fees to suppliers for sales through their contracts - though most suppliers find that the benefits of added exposure greatly outweigh these relatively small costs. Keep an eye on solicitation opportunities from some of the key national and regional cooperatives.
For more assistance and training on winning cooperative awards, locate your nearest Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Also note that most agencies have “How to do business with…” resources on their websites.
Ask to have shareable language added during the solicitation process
You may also ask to have shareable language added to the contract during the solicitation process. Any time you compete to win a formally solicited contract is an opportunity to win a shareable contract, too. As you navigate the solicitation and award process, ask the government entities you’re working with to add shareable language into their solicitation and/or contract.
Ask if the lead agency on your current contract is able to amend or modify the contract to include shareable language
If you’ve won contracts that are still active but do not include shareable language, it’s worth contacting the lead agency to inquire about amending the agreement to include this language. This can be done, in some cases, as long as both parties agree to it.
Sell off a shareable contract as an approved reseller, distributor, or subcontractor
Many shareable contracts have language in the contract allowing for resellers, distributors, and/or subcontractors of the awarded vendor(s). If you are a reseller or distributor of goods or services, you can become an approved reseller for another supplier that is already on a shareable contract. This means you don’t have to go through the process of getting awarded the contract yourself, but you will have less control over the terms of the contract. Traditionally, it can be more difficult to be discovered by public procurement professionals as a reseller on a contract, but Pavilion brings these relationships to the forefront so public procurement professionals can consider all of their purchasing options for a particular contract, including via resellers.
What’s special about responding to a solicitation that includes shareable language?
Responding to solicitations that include shareable language is pretty similar to responding to normal government solicitations, except for a few considerations:
- Scope: Remember, you can only sell what is defined within the scope of the contract. It’s to your advantage to include a broad scope (i.e. “full catalog”) so you can use the contract to respond to a wider range of procurement needs. You might consider creating a “menu” of goods and services that is relevant for different sizes or types of public entities.
- Pricing structure: Pricing on shareable contracts is generally a ceiling price; depending on the terms and conditions of the contract, purchasing entities may expect to be able to negotiate additional discounts. Do not commit to pricing in a contract that is so low that you would not be able to offer that pricing to a range of public entities. Remember, if the contract includes shareable language, you’ll want to be able to offer the price listed or even a slightly better price (according to deal size and other factors that impact margins) to future government customers buying off the contract.
What public entities can I sell to using a shareable contract?
Shareable contracts oftentimes have wider distribution potential than you might imagine. For example, Pavilion helped Remy Corporation, a veteran-owned business headquartered in Colorado, generate a new sale over $100,000 to a new customer based in Kansas using a State of Massachusetts contract that the buyer discovered through Pavilion.
Pavilion makes your contracts discoverable to public entities that are able to utilize your contract. Shareable contracts may be:
- National or open-ended: Any public entity across the country is able to utilize the contract. This is the case in most national shareable contracts, which are designed to be utilized by member governments across the country.
- Regional or select states only: Some contracts, for instance statewide contracts and some local public entity contracts often only allow entities within a specific state to piggyback. NASPO ValuePoint, a cooperative that serves state and local entities, generally requires that local entities that want to utilize the contract confirm that their state is participating in the contract in order to be eligible to purchase.
- Specific list of participating entities: In the most restrictive cases, only entities that are specifically listed or are part of a closed group can utilize the contract. For instance, SAVE in Arizona and the Southeast Florida Governmental Purchasing Cooperative Group creates shareable contracts that are available for its members in the region only.
In order to use a shareable contract, a public entity may need to become a member of a purchasing cooperative, sign an intergovernmental agreement, or confirm that a participating addendum is in-place.
- Cooperative membership: Most national and regional purchasing cooperatives require membership in order for the public entity to use the contract. Typically, the membership sign-up process is quite fast and easy; however, each public entity has its own requirements for how new memberships are approved, so check with your government client.
- Intergovernmental agreements (IGA): Some state and local entity contracts require that public entities sign an intergovernmental agreement in order to utilize a contract. For instance, Texas DIR requires out-of-state government customers to sign an Interstate Cooperation Contract.
- Participating addenda (PA): A Participating Addendum is an agreement between the supplier and a participating entity incorporating the terms and conditions included in the original solicitation and any other additional participating entity-specific language or other requirements, e.g. ordering procedures, or other terms and conditions unique to the participating entity. An entity may want to sign a PA with you as a supplier if there are unique terms and conditions for that entity that are different from those in the original solicitation and contract. You may also hear about PAs if you win a contract through NASPO ValuePoint, a national purchasing cooperative in which states collaborate on procurement. States that want to utilize NASPO ValuePoint contracts typically sign a “Participating Addenda” (PA). Many, but not all, states require that in order for local public entities to utilize a NASPO ValuePoint contract, the state must first sign a PA. Local public entities can confirm which states have PAs and which entities do not require PAs on Pavilion or on the NASPO ValuePoint website.
If I win a shareable contract, do I have to sell off of that contract?
When you respond to a solicitation from a purchasing cooperative or consortium, you should be prepared to sell off that contract to any and all of the cooperative’s members. For national purchasing cooperatives, membership can include tens of thousands of public entities. Remember to think carefully about how to price your goods or services in your solicitation response, as you will be obligated to sell under the same terms and conditions to all members. (Note: There may be exceptions in cases of territorial distributorship or logistics of the delivery or services; these are usually written into the contract.)
When local agencies include shareable language in their contracts, they allow you as the supplier the option to sell off the contract to other public entities that want to piggyback. In this instance, you may accept or decline the piggyback request at your discretion.
How do I provide a quote using a shareable contract?
Most government entities that want to purchase from your shareable contract will request a quote. This is an opportunity for you to confirm contract pricing (or even offer an additional discount to win the deal). Pavilion facilitates the quoting process by allowing government users to contact your business directly via email or phone.
When you’re responding to a request for a quote off your shareable contract, make sure you:
- Respond quickly. Make sure you have a designated point of contact at your company so you can get a quick response back to the public procurement professional. Suppliers that are more responsive tend to win more business!
- Reference your contract documentation. Government entities will need to make sure that the price you are offering is the same or better than the one that you’ve agreed to in your awarded contract. You should reference this contract number and, if possible, provide a link to the contract documentation, including pricing files, so the government entity can verify. You can expedite this process by uploading documentation to your Pavilion profile.
- Refer to the process specified in your contract. Many national purchasing cooperatives generally include language for the quotation process in their contract documentations, especially for blanket contracts (discount off of list). In some instances, you may be required by the purchasing cooperative to loop in a staff person at the purchasing cooperative to confirm your quote before the public entity makes a purchase.
How do I sell off a shareable contract?
Public entities differ in their procedures for purchasing off of shareable contracts. Typically, public entities will want to confirm a quote and review all diligence documentation before moving forward. Then will either:
- Issue a Purchase Order (PO): Some public entities will simply issue a purchase order (PO) that references the original contract number.
- Sign a Participating Addendum (PA): Some public entities need to sign a participating addendum before issuing a purchase order. Usually this is either because the entity that originally awarded the cooperative agreement requires a participating addendum or the piggybacking entity’s policies require it. Once the PA is completed, the public entity will issue a PO.
Work with the public entity you are selling to to identify the best way for them to purchase from you.
Do I need to be directly awarded a shareable contract to sell off a shareable contract?
You do not need to be directly awarded a shareable contract to sell through a shareable contract, but if you have not been directly awarded you must be listed as an authorized reseller, distributor, or subcontractor that can transact on behalf of the primary awarded supplier(s).
- If you are a reseller, distributor, or subcontractor for other suppliers, it does not necessarily mean you are able to sell off of their contracts - you must be specifically listed as an authorized reseller/subcontractor on the contract.
- It’s worth checking, however, if any of your business affiliates have shareable contracts, and if they do, how you can become an approved distributor on their contract.
How can I use shareable contracts to grow my government sales?
- Reference your shareable contracts in your outbound marketing emails. If you market to government entities via email campaigns, let them know that they may be eligible to purchase immediately off of one of your shareable contracts, and add a link to your profile on Pavilion.
- Make shareable contracts part of your sales pitch. Compliance and the ease of a transaction are key components of the purchasing process. Make sure your sales team is discussing shareable contracts with prospective public procurement professionals. Any interaction with a public procurement professional or end user is an opportunity to let them know that your company has a legal, pre-vetted contract that can help the public entity work with you.
- Add your Pavilion profile to your website. Add a link to your Pavilion profile on your website so government entities can see your shareable contract options and complete diligence documentation, all in one place.
This guide was edited and reviewed by procurement professionals Kelly Mickelson, Karri Burgess, and Rita Parker, and Sharon Reed.