The importance of vendor outreach
Are you looking for more vendor outreach? You are not alone. Local government purchasing professionals throughout the country are constantly looking for more outreach and vendor competition for goods, services, and construction bids.
The need for increased competition
There are many reasons that local government organizations often look to increase competition for bids. The most common needs include:
• Lowering the price/cost of goods or services
• Looking for new services/goods with no current providers
• Increasing the number of responses
• Increasing local or WMDBE competition because of purchasing policies
Increasing competition requires a pre-existing database of vendors, a great outreach program, or a combination of both.
Whether you are hoping to get lower bids or increase the number of WMDBE’s responding, outreach is very important. There are a number of ways that local government centralized purchasing organizations are communicating open bids with an increased number of vendors.
Some purchasing departments are utilizing email and vendor lists in excel. Is the contact information up-to-date? Does the vendor have a new sales representative to contact? The time it takes to keep a manual vendor database in excel current could be hours for each solicitation. Similar to the old sit at the fax machine or sending notices by mail methods - it takes a lot of time to compile the list of correct vendors and email them all! Read receipts are a requirement if you are sending solicitations out via email. An audit of receipt, filing the out-of-office replies, etc. can take even more of your valuable time. This manual process is not recommended with so many other options available to your organization.
Own website versus 3rd party solution
Setting up a vendor registration on your own website is another option to keep track and automate vendor communication. Although this will save time, it is costly to host databases (ask your IT team!). In addition, unless you have an intricate solution on your website, you will still have to manually reach out to vendors regarding addenda, questions and answers, and awarding the bid. This option is a step in the right direction, though you may miss some needed reporting and tracking information.
With a 3rd party e-sourcing platform, vendors self-register. And many platforms, such as BidNet Direct, require vendors to update their information (i.e. contact name, email, phone, etc.) at least once every 12 months. With a vendor database that is up-to-date, you know you are distributing the bid to the right contact!
In addition, an e-sourcing platform will track all notifications that are sent out, each document downloaded, and more, and are fully auditable so that you know which vendors have done what with your solicitations. Utilizing a bid distribution and management 3rd party solution saves your purchasing team time and ensures that your solicitations reach the maximum number of vendors possible.
Increase vendor outreach
Increase your vendor outreach by publishing your solicitations on an existing platform with thousands of registered vendors. BidNet Direct offers regional purchasing groups for vendors who are looking to do business with local government agencies in that area. With tens of thousands of total registered vendors, increasing your outreach is as simple as a click of a button.
During the solicitation creation process on the platform, you can see which vendors will automatically be notified of your solicitation based on matching NIGP codes. Don’t see your incumbent on the list Or do you need to notify a vendor not registered on BidNet Direct? No problem. With the solution’s “Courtesy Email” feature, simply copy and paste a vendor’s email address and they will automatically be sent a link to the solicitation. In addition, you can browse registered vendors based on WMDBE, other certification statuses, or location in order to notify more registered vendors. Of course, all information is tracked on the platform so that you know which vendors were notified, which downloaded documents, and more.
Vendor outreach is an important part of the bid process. Whether you need to get the lowest possible price, reach policy or board member minimums, find new vendors, or a combination; a 3rd party e-sourcing solution is the best option to increase vendor competition & outreach.