Vendor Relationships Management

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With VRM, the customer is in charge of the relationship. Not the vendor.

We will be able to manage vendors at least as well as they manage us.

- Doc Searls

If we are moving towards a Intention Economy or a Pull Economy, where the demands of active consumers become primary, rather than the supply of vendors, then we need a new type of tool, so that we as consumers, can manage vendors relations and become independent of any one of them.


Doc Searls:

"I want to notify the whole market that I want to rent a car, in effect a personal RFP that goes out when I arrive at the airport to Hertz and Avis and all the others. I would like to be the bridge. I would like to handle my own health care data. I should be able to inquire and relate to whole markets, on the fly." The users need to be the platform of the future." (


Doc Searls:

"Imagine being able to relate to vendors -- productively, on mutually agreeable terms -- rather than just paying them money for whatever they're selling, and occasionally giving them "feedback" through surveys that aggregate our "input" inside some impersonal "customer relationship management" (CRM) system. That's the idea behind VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management. It's the reciprocal of CRM: a toolset for independence and engagement. That is, of independence from vendors and engagement with vendors."

""...the inside-out nature of relationships between customers and vendors. That is, customers are at the center -- at the inside -- and relate outward toward any number of vendors. The idea is not to take the old top-down few-to-many pyramid of vendor-controlled markets and turn it upside down, with customers now on top. Instead, we equip customers with the means to function in more ways inside marketplaces, at the center of relationships with any number of vendors."


"There are a number of technical things that are needed: a robust way for customers to manage their own online identities without getting trapped in any vendor's silo, a way for customers to only share the aspects of identity that they want to share with a particular vendor (perhaps anonymously), and a robust way for vendors to interact with those customers. But more importantly than the technical aspects, the cultural shift of actually putting the customer in charge may end up being the largest challenge." (

Characteristics of VRM

  • Data Independence - "Individuals needs to own and control their own data, independent of vendors"
  • Customer-Centricity - "Customers are at the center -- at the inside -- and relate outward toward any number of vendors"
  • Reputation, Intention and Preference - "All three bear on relationships, and there is an enormous amount that can be done with each of them."


  • A "personal RFP". Requests For Proposal, or RFPs, are formal appeals for bids that companies send out to suppliers.

More Information

  1. VRM Working Group
  2. The Social Customer Manifesto, at


  1. Discussion on Vendor Relationships Management
  2. Doc Searls on Vendor Relationships Management