In this stage, the buyer is ready to invite qualified suppliers to submit proposals. When the item is complex or expensive, the buyer will require a detailed written proposal from each qualified supplier. After evaluating the proposals, the buyer will invite a few suppliers to make formal presentations.
Business marketers must thus be skilled in researching, writing, and presenting proposals. Their written proposals should be marketing documents, not just technical documents. Their oral presentations should inspire confidence, positioning their company's capabilities and resources so that they stand out from the competition.
A supplier's first priority during this stage is to become qualified or, in some cases, to become certified, so it will be invited to submit proposals. Consider the hurdles that Xerox has set up for suppliers. Only suppliers that meet ISO 9000 international quality standards can qualify for certification. These suppliers must complete the Xerox Multinational Supplier Quality Survey, participate in Xerox's Continuous Supplier Involvement process, and undergo rigorous quality training and evaluation based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria. Not surprisingly, only 176 companies worldwide have become certified Xerox suppliers.23
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