On average, how many hours do you put into selecting a new vendor? Think about the initial google research, and then all the emails and phone tag. Next you obsess over your “short list” and launch into the cat wrangling exercise that is reference checking. It’s a lot of time and energy, right?
So when your boss turns around and asks for “a few more options” or (even worse) stalls, leaving you in decision-making purgatory, you may get a little miffed.
We agree that this is annoying behavior; nothing will slow your roll like an indecisive manager. But, if your boss is usually pretty good about moving forward at a reasonable pace, the problem may actually be in your presentation skills.
You know you’ve done the necessary work and critical thinking to ensure your won’t be switching vendors in a month, but does your boss? A weak presentation can make your choices look random or ill-informed.
The next time you present a new vendor recommendation, give this process a shot.
1. Pick Your Boss’s Favorite Presentation Style
Some people like to have a few slides to guide a conversation, while others want to see a full deck. Some bosses may prefer a report they can read through. You may need to experiment to find the format that works best.
2. Start With the “Landscape"
If your process were a funnel, this would be the widest section at the very top. It’s not worth your boss’s time to know many details about this phase of your vendor review, but it’s a good idea to send the message that you started by considering all possible options. You can show that you performed a thorough landscape analysis by creating a slide with every vendor’s logo or providing a complete list of companies that you initially considered.
3. Explain Your Process of Elimination
There were likely one or two factors that took a bunch of companies out of the running. For example, if 24/7 customer service was a deal breaker, you dumped the vendors that are only open 9 to 5. There’s no need to spend a ton of time on this, but do outline these factors and move on to your refined list.
4. Talk Through Your “Scorecard”
You can create a vendor scorecard using a simple grid, chart, or excel doc.
First, identify your criteria. If you’re choosing an office supply company, your criteria might be price, product selection, delivery time, and customer service.
Make sure you think this through and consider your company’s priorities. For example, if one of your company’s values relates to fair trade and labor, make sure you consider your vendors’ manufacturing processes.
Second, rank your companies by category. A 1-5 scoring system is easy to manage, but use whatever works best for you.
Tally up the scores. If one category is more important than the others, make sure to weigh it appropriately.
Consider the qualitative data, too. Numbers are great, but it’s fair to include your gut feelings and impressions. (Use your ninja intuition!)
5. Make a Recommendation.
Some people do all the info-gathering and then forget this part. Even if the ultimate decision isn’t actually yours, this is an opportunity to show-off your decision-making skills.
It may take a couple tries to adapt your vendor presentation to your manager’s preferences. But, once you get it down pat you’ll likely spend a lot less time re-doing your work and wading through bureaucracy. And you’ll always have a vendor decision you can feel good about.
What’s your vendor presentation process? Any tips or tricks to share?