Skip to Main Content

A Guide for Suppliers: Understanding How Buyers Select Vendors

Leanne Strickler
Published May 08, 2023

Have you ever wondered what buyers are looking for in a supplier? It’s a difficult thing to know, and you might feel like you’re shooting in the dark when it comes to filling out bids and submitting them to buyers.

Trying to find the perfect combination of price, delivery time, and product quality is hard enough as it is, and understanding exactly what criteria buyers want from suppliers can be challenging. Luckily, there are some key things that buyers look for in a supplier that you can use to your advantage.

In this article, I’m going to share with you the knowledge I’ve gathered from working with both buyers and suppliers during my 10+ years in the industry. My tips will help give you a better understanding of how buyers select vendors so that you can increase your chances of getting awarded contracts. Let’s get started!

How Buyers Research and Identify Potential New Suppliers

Understanding how buyers search for new vendors can help you increase your chances of being noticed. Generally, buyers use a three-step process to identify potential suppliers: research and identify vendors, assess options, and select a vendor.

When researching for new vendors, buyers want to find a supplier who fits their needs. To do this, they look at suppliers’ websites, industry directories, conversations with other buyers, digital industry events, and more. Buyers often seek out a range of price points and capabilities when starting the search process.

When assessing potential suppliers, buyers explore the supplier’s qualifications such as certifications or accreditations like ISO certification or other industry-specific certifications. They also evaluate pricing plans and customer feedback or reviews to evaluate how trustworthy the supplier is and how it has performed in the past.

Finally, when it comes time to select a vendor, buyers consider factors like customer service history as well as overall pricing structure to determine which vendor is best suited for their needs. Keep in mind that there may be competing interests at play—for instance, internal procurement requirements versus preference from end users—so what makes sense from a quality perspective may not be prioritized over cost savings considerations.

What Buyers Look for When Evaluating Suppliers: Quality, Experience, and References

When buyers are looking for suppliers, one of the most important qualities they evaluate is the quality of the products and services offered. They want to ensure that their potential vendor can meet deadlines and quality expectations, which includes agreeing to any contractual requirements. Buyers also want to ensure that any potential supplier can keep up with their demands.

In addition to quality, buyers want to work with vendors that are experts in their respective industries. Having a good reputation and positive references from current or past customers helps to reassure buyers that they are selecting a credible supplier.

Finally, buyers will always consider cost. Although price is not the only factor in selecting a supplier, buyers usually prefer vendors who offer competitive pricing without compromising quality. Ultimately, having all these elements—quality, experience, and references—in place will help your business stand out from the competition and make it easier for buyers to choose you as their partner.

The Importance of a Supplier’s Online Presence and Website

A supplier’s online presence and website also play a crucial role in the buyer’s decision process. Buyers typically look for suppliers with a website that provides detailed information about their services, products, and pricing structure. Information on a website can give buyers an idea of the supplier’s size, capabilities, and services.

Establishing trust

Having a transparent website with active customer reviews and testimonials also helps build trust with buyers. Testimonials from current or past customers can demonstrate that the supplier is reliable, trustworthy, and able to meet buyer expectations. A well-designed website helps reflect a supplier’s professionalism. A well-designed website gives buyers confidence in the supplier’s ability to produce quality products and services.

Easy access

Buyers also value websites that are easy to access and navigate. If buyers find it difficult or time-consuming to search for what they need, they may be more likely to move on to another vendor with an easier-to-navigate website. Buyers need to understand how knowledgeable and organized the supplier is, so be sure your website is clear and concise.

As a supplier, you should know that potential buyers will look at your website before making decisions. Your website sells your products and services 24/7. Ensure your online presence is professional and up-to-date to attract new customers.

How Buyers Assess the Financial Stability and Capacity of Suppliers

It’s important to understand that buyers assess the financial stability and capacity of suppliers before signing a contract. After all, buyers need to have confidence that they can trust you to deliver on your promises in the long term.

Here’s how buyers typically assess financial stability:

  1. Review of financial statements: Buyers often check your company’s financial records, such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets, to understand your company’s financial standing. They also check for previous outstanding debts or liabilities.
  2. Evaluation of past performance: Buyers like to know how well you’ve performed in the past—did you meet specific deadlines? Deliver within budget? Offer competitive rates? Were there any customer service issues? This information helps buyers evaluate whether you will be able to meet their requirements in the future.
  3. Analysis of market position: Buyers will look at things like your brand equity, current tariffs, market trends, and customer reviews to determine whether doing business with you is beneficial for them in the long run.

Buyers assess vendor financials and capabilities because they want to ensure that they’re entering into a contract with a financially stable supplier who has proven capable of meeting their requirements in terms of quality, timelines, and budget expectations. If a supplier can demonstrate this through their records and past performance, they’re more likely to win better contracts from buyers in the future.

The Role of Samples, Trials, and Site Visits in the Supplier Selection Process

As part of the supplier selection process, buyers often ask prospective suppliers for samples, trials, and even site visits. This is their way of getting the assurance that you can handle the job. This also ensures buyers that your products meet their needs and allows them to understand how your services are delivered.

Having a great sample to share with potential clients can make all the difference in being selected as a vendor. Buyers will judge potential suppliers on the quality of their samples, so put some extra effort into making sure they are as perfect as they can be—both in terms of content and presentation.

Trials are also used to assess whether or not you have the capabilities required for a particular project. In this situation, buyers will need to make sure that your products and services fit their needs, including if they work properly or if they comply with specific regulations or standards.

Last but not least, don’t be surprised if one of your potential clients asks for a site visit before awarding you a contract. Site visits allow buyers to evaluate your operations first-hand, from what your production looks like to how efficiently orders are processed and shipped.

Negotiating With Buyers and Winning the Contract

Diving into a contract negotiation can be intimidating, but you can give yourself an edge with these tips to ensure you increase your chances of winning the deal.

Understand the Buyer’s Needs

Start by exploring the buyer’s needs, preferences, and challenges thoroughly. It’s important to ask questions, do research and tweak your offerings accordingly. Make sure to tailor your solutions and practices to meet their requirements. Doing so will show that you ‘get it’ and are honest about what you can provide.

Be Flexible

Buyers want flexible vendors, so keep that in mind as you negotiate. Be prepared to think outside the box and consider offers that benefit both parties. Modify your services or products depending on the buyer’s wants and needs, but only do so if the contract and relationship are profitable and worthwhile. 

Build Credibility

You can build credibility by providing competitive pricing, having letters of recommendation from existing customers who have been satisfied with your work, and assuring buyers that you’ll meet deadlines without fail. Being punctual in responding to emails is also essential, as it shows potential buyers that you take their business seriously — demand attention with promptness!

By understanding the buyer’s needs, remaining flexible with what you offer, and building credibility, suppliers can increase their chances of winning a lucrative contract from buyers – best of luck!


In conclusion, being a successful supplier takes more than fulfilling your obligations with every sale. Setting yourself up for success requires understanding how buyers look for and select new suppliers. Ensure your products fit their needs, invest in the right technology to make communication easy, build a good relationship with buyers, and demonstrate how you can benefit their bottom line. With these tips, you’ll set yourself up for success as a vendor and have buyers lining up wanting to work with you.