Revenue and Growth – The upside for Sales and Account Management from understanding Procurement

31 May, 2017

How well do you understand and work with your stakeholders? I’m not talking about your colleagues or management team, I’m focusing specifically on procurement as your customer.

If you’re in the travel industry and in corporate sales or account management, there’s a good chance that one of your customer stakeholder groups will be procurement.

I’ve had clients share with me that they repeatedly encountered challenges when working with procurement. They find the function would regularly withhold information, could be uncooperative, (sometimes aggressive) and has a strong focus on price and savings. Does that sound like your experience too?

What would it mean commercially if you understood procurements hopes, fears, passion, drivers and motivators? Not just corporately but personally. Not only could you build constructive commercial partnership, you could;

  • Prevent accounts going to tender;
  • Increase ‘wallet share’ with existing clients; and
  • Improve the likelihood of winning additional business

Walking in Procurements Shoes

As with many aspects of our business and personal lives, if we are willing to take the time to understand someone else’s perspective, a world of potential can be opened.

Understanding leads to trust, trust produces transparency, transparency results in collaboration, which in turn is when mutual financial benefit is seen.

So what are the keys to understanding procurement?

  1. Procurement Roles are not Created Equal: Be very clear who you are engaging. The Chief Procurement Officer, Procurement Manager, Category Manager or Procurement Analyst are not only roles with vastly different objectives, they also attract people with completely different skill sets and personality types. One size does not fit all. An individual sales strategy must be cast for each audience in procurement.
  1. The Dominant Challenges: Procurement teams across almost every industry suffer a similar set of challenges – program sponsorship and support, internal adoption and contributing to financial performance. Make sure your solution identifies and resolves not just the challenge but also its source.
  1. Hopes and Fears: Procurement desperately wants to be more than a shared service function - it aspires for business partnership. But it has a perception issue to overcome. Sometimes procurement struggles to prove it’s worth, share its message and make inroads – this is where you can help. Lift the conversation from tactics to strategy, help them develop the mid-term plan, show them how to communicate with aplomb. If you can enable procurements objectives, the role of influential advisor beckons.
  1. Savings and the Business Case: Every procurement activity has a business case. Inevitably, many will have savings as one of the top deliverables. Have you stopped to ask ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’? What is the business case? Why is the engagement being performed? How are savings and ‘value’ being generated? If you understand the deeper drivers, you can provide a solution that better meets procurements need.
  1. Love your Client more than your Product: Is the passion for your ‘product’ greater than your care for your client? Procurement constantly fields calls from you and your competition. This can be wearing and can make procurement calloused toward the full value of what you offer. If what you do is not resonating with procurement, perhaps the focus has been less about them and more about you. To keep on the straight and narrow, make sure you ask them, ‘What can I do for you?’

As a sales or account management professional, your goals may be to lengthen account life, retain or improve margins, perhaps increase new business conversions. The challenge for sales and account managers will often be procurement - the gate keeper and guard at the door. Take the time to understand them, really understand them. Come to terms with their hopes, fears, passion and motivation and evolve your solutions so they resolve procurements challenges.

After all, a win for procurement will be a celebration for you.

Like to know more?

  1. Download your FREE chapter of William Pegg’s book ‘Changing the Game’. It’s written for the leadership of mid-sized companies to help improve profit and growth through better procurement.
  2. If you’d like greater top line results, ‘Understanding the Buyer’ is the program that will show you how to effectively engage procurement for long term results. Contact Synthesis to learn more.

William Pegg is the Director of Synthesis Group, a consulting firm for mid-sized companies - helping business generate sustained profit and sales through better procurement and supply solutions.