Landing a contract with a new vendor is hard work, and a disorganized vetting process makes it both more difficult and more susceptible to potential hazards. Inconsistent documentation and rigid systems handicap teams, or worse, give them an excuse to go rogue and put together their own ununiformed assets. In either case, your business will suffer. A process that slows down your team will lengthen the contracting process, and in the worst cases, jeopardize relationships. If your team feels compelled to make their own assets, the potential for inconsistency skyrockets.
To keep your business safe from these risks, ensure the most efficient process, and deliver the best experience to your suppliers, you need a vendor application and approval process that is both controlled and flexible. Control allows you to maintain consistency, compliance, and brand integrity. Flexibility enables your team to tailor the process and documentation to the situation at hand.
Consistency is a critical element of your pipeline. Internally, it provides the framework for a vendor vetting process that can be easily and efficiently replicated across your organization. Externally, it provides a seamless and consistent vendor experience. Standardization also greatly reduces the risk of human error. From brand messaging and service offerings to contract terms and pricing structures, standardizing your sales materials eliminates the need to worry about anyone misrepresenting your offers or making promises your company can’t keep.
On the flip side, you don’t want to stifle creativity entirely. After all, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t always work. Implementing a vendor sales solution that gives your employees a fast, easy way to personalize materials ensures they are fully equipped to address the specific needs of any pitch or vendor conversation. Being able to customize and personalize presentations, proposals, and contracts within the constraints of pipeline standardization gives you the best of both worlds and a better chance of winning the vendor business.
In addition to helping ensure your team doesn’t get mired in busywork, automating key parts of the contracting process provides important checks and balances. Automated workflows that respond to pre-defined triggers can, for instance, alert specialized team members when a project requires their attention, reclassify a deal or remind an employee to follow up with a particular prospect. In each of these instances, automation lightens the employee’s workload while also guaranteeing that all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted according to official procedures and protocols.
While the customer conversation begins well before your team presents the first proposal and extends far beyond the signature on the first deal, pipeline activities represent a crucial turning point in company and vendor relationships. Getting those initial interactions right not only makes or breaks the initial deal, but also wins or loses you the lifetime value of the opportunity. A pipeline process that balances control with flexibility gives your team an edge that can make a big difference to your long-term bottom line.