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Selling product ideas to the military involves fulfilling an existing need. The majority of products the U.S. Department of Defense purchases involve individual transactions of $100,000 or less, according to the department. Most business is conducted through purchase orders to local suppliers. For procurements costing more than $100,000, the Defense Department solicits sealed competitive bids.
Learn the Ropes
According to the Defense Department, small business, disadvantaged small business and those owned by women are of particular interest to the its purchasing department. The Defense Department advises small-business owners to learn on their own the proper procedures for contacting and submitting proposals.
An initial step in selling products to the military is to obtain a Data Universal Number System, or DUNS, number. Dun and Bradstreet -- a respected public company that provides information technology services, business and credit information -- assigns a DUNS number to businesses upon request. This DUNS number is a nine-digit identifier for your business, based on your location, and is used to register with federal opportunity systems. Of course, you also must have an employer identification number or a Social Security number if conducting business as a sole proprietor.
Search the GSA Database
The U.S. General Services Administration acts as a go-between linking private businesses and their product offers to government agencies and the military. Register with Federal Business Opportunities, known online as FedBizOpps, and look through the prospects to see how your product ideas fit the government's requests. When you find availability for your product, you can submit an offer.
Identify the Specs
Because the Defense Department purchases products for the military that must conform to exact specifications, you will need to learn the requirements. Familiarize yourself with the Department of Defense Single Stock Point, the DoDSSP. This database contains more than 50,000 items the Defense Department buys. Access the database online or purchase a CD-ROM or paper copy through the Superintendent of Documents at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C.
Register With SAM
You might also want to register with the System for Award Management. This database combines vendor opportunities from a number of agencies. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advises any vendors or entrepreneurs wishing to do business with the Corps to first register with the SAM database, as it is a requirement to solicit the Corps. After registration, you can search through the types of products and services each division needs or wants. If you're interested in selling a product idea specifically to the Corps, you can directly contact the deputy for small business at the Corps of Engineers either in person or in writing to promote your products.
Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.