How to Select the Right Vendor For Your Business

Vinay Agrawwal
July 22, 2022

Choosing a vendor is equivalent to selecting a business partner - you must open all the right doors to taste success.

The vendor selection process can be complex and stressful if you don't know how to proceed. The simplest approach is to have the right team and a meticulous proposal evaluation process to accomplish it. 

You've probably completed your Request for Proposal (RFP) and are gearing up to embark on the challenging process of reviewing several vendor profiles and selecting the best fit for your business.

This is where this blog will come in helpful: learn the secrets, criteria, and best practices behind the vendor selection process. The following insights will enable you to choose the ideal partner (vendor) confidently.

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But First, What is the Vendor Selection Process?

A vendor is an individual or industry that sells products and services to businesses or individuals. The products range from office supplies to inventory, tools and equipment, and staffing services. They are also called suppliers in common parlance.

Vendor selection involves a multitude of steps to identify the requirement, select a budget, and evaluate which vendor is capable of delivering those services. 

It also includes locating possible suppliers, collecting competitive bid quotations or submitting an RFP, assessing vendors by contacting sources, using a company's vendor selection checklist, and signing the contract. 

What are the Vendor Selection Criteria?

The main criteria to select a vendor are:

Business Requirements

Understanding your requirements is the first step in the vendor selection criteria. If you don't know what your business requires, proceeding with the vendor selection process is implausible.

You can begin by assigning a team of experts who will evaluate:

  • The product and services needed 
  • Business requirements and budget allotments 
  • Ideal vendor profile that is relevant and suitable to the business

To gather all these sensitive business data, your team must identify and interview relevant parties and clients, review existing internal resources such as statistics and records, and collate specific data to create a detailed document that'll enhance your RFP.

You can proceed with the RFP and vendor selection procedure once you have all the necessary business requirement documentation.

Price

Price negotiation is critical during the vendor selection process. Your ultimate goal should be to achieve the best value for the least cost.

However, don't be persuaded by cheap estimates; it's a trap. You might come across vendors who are significantly less expensive than the rest. However, being economical does not imply selecting low-quality products/services for a reduced price.

Partnering with low-cost vendors has forced several business owners to spend more than the estimations owing to unmentioned terms and conditions.

The best way to overcome this is through thorough negotiation and sticking to your prepared documentation.

Quality

The most significant vendor selection criteria are product/service quality.

Higher price estimates don't mean higher quality products. If you do not conduct detailed quality research analysis, your business will suffer long-term.

Hence, during the vendor selection process, ask for samples of the vendors' products and perform rigorous quality checks. If you're looking for a service, inquire whether the personnel is well-trained and what expertise they possess.

You can also look into their previous partnerships and check the ratings received by vendors.

History and Financial Stability

No vendor selection process should end without running a background check on the vendor. You need to know when they started doing business, how many clients they sell to, and how financially stable they are. 

After signing a contract, the last thing you need is your vendor to declare bankruptcy. This is why a thorough background check is necessary and is a crucial vendor selection criterion.

Based on this background check, you can also determine the quality of the products they've delivered.

Deliverability 

Next in our vendor selection criteria is the rate at which they can deliver your requirements. Deliverability is key because time is essential; if a supplier doesn't deliver the products on time, your business will be the one paying the price. 

This is where a background check comes in handy. Examine how optimized their delivery schedules are. This will save you time and expenses in the future.

Customer Service

A successful business partnership is facilitated through proper communication. A vendor with subpar customer service will not help you increase sales.

Customer service is an unavoidable vendor criterion. If the vendor doesn't have a dedicated team to handle your inquiries, it's best not to submit the RFP to them.

Experts say that businesses with poor customer service tend to have a bad reputation/rating. So, check your references and business contacts or even conduct a simple internet search to look for vendors with higher ratings to get the best customer service.

References

People always trust recommendations from others, especially the ones from their inner circle. The same logic applies to your vendor selection process.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Listen to the WOM your vendor gets from your friends and partners. Ask questions like:

  • Was the vendor's estimate reasonable?
  • How good was their customer service?
  • Were they flexible, and did they deliver on time?
  • How did they treat their previous clients?
  • What is the quality of their products?

Adhering to Ethics 

A business is only successful if surrounded by prestigious and moral partners. The final vendor selection criteria is to choose a vendor who adheres to the required protocols and ethics when delivering the products.

Deliverability, price, quality, customer service, and financial stability all fall under ethics. It is preferable to deal with a supplier who ticks all of these boxes and follows regulations.

Customer reviews and social proof will be helpful here; they will tell you how well-known and trustworthy a vendor is.

Also read: How this IT giant sped up its Vendor Payments cycle by 2X in 72 hrs

Submitting the Proposal

Now that you know the best practices businesses follow before selecting a vendor, here are the steps to submit a proposal:

Step 1: You can start submitting your RFP and shortlisting the vendors with this information.

Step 2: Vendors will start submitting their proposals.

Step 3: Request your proposal evaluation team to perform a detailed sweep of vendor proposals. This is where the vendor selection criteria will come in handy. 

Step 4: After the evaluation, shortlist the suitable vendors. 

Step 5: Interview each vendor in the presence of your stakeholders, rate their performance, and select the vendor with the highest score.

Step 6: Negotiate the terms and conditions and price, asses any liabilities and dispute resolutions, and sign the contract. 

This is how you select the right vendor for your business. 

Wrapping Up

You can sign the contract and proceed with the delivery schedules once you have determined that the vendor is the right fit for your company.

Adhering to the vendor selection criteria outlined in this blog can help you streamline your vendor selection process. In addition, vendor management software can also help you source the right vendor.

How did you select your vendors before? Did you learn something new from this blog? Let us know your thoughts!