The buyer next invites qualified suppliers to submit written proposals. After evaluating them, the buyer will invite a few suppliers to make formal presentations. Business marketers must be skilled in researching, writing, and presenting proposals as marketing documents that describe value and benefits in customer terms. Oral presentations must inspire confidence and position the company’s capabilities and resources so they stand out from the competition.
Before selecting a supplier, members of the buying center will specify and rank desired supplier attributes. To develop compelling value propositions, business marketers need to better understand how these business buyers arrive at their valuations.54 Further, despite moves toward strategic sourcing and partnering, business buyers still spend a lot of time negotiating price. Suppliers can counter requests for lower price in a number of ways. They may be able to show that their product’s life-cycle cost is lower than for competitors’ products or cite the value of the services the buyer now receives, especially if it is superior to that offered by competitors.55 Service support and personal interactions, as well as a supplier’s know-how and ability to improve customers’ time to market, can be useful differentiators in achieving key-supplier status.56