Have you been in the situation where you have been dealing with a company and the procurement process has driven you nearly insane? Have any of your sales processes hit the proverbial brick wall when going through procurement?
If you have, you’re not alone. Many salespeople are driven to despair when having to wait for purchase orders or the go-ahead for specific meetings from people whose sole job, it seems, is to make it very difficult for you to sleep at night.
Are there some ways you can prepare for the inevitable? We discuss some ways that will give you the edge when dealing with procurement departments:
1) Remember every procurement department have different ways of running things
Whatever the last procurement department did, think about this next one in a whole different light. Some may appear like Attila the Hun, others like Mr Softy of Softville. Each one will have their own way of dealing with suppliers.
You need to understand what you have to do to be on their approval list. Approach it like they are your professional partner, and you theirs. The moment you see them as a partner, the easier the relationship gets.
2) Appreciate the overall need of the company and why you’re the best solution for them
This comes from knowing your products, knowing the issues the customer is facing and understanding the connection between the two. Also, knowing how urgent the issues are can help you play the consultative role in the development of the sales process.
If you discuss the timing issues that your stakeholders have confided in you, it offers chances for you to raise them with the procurement team. Without that level of urgency, you may see procurement walk through treacle in the process.
3) Get all stakeholders on your side
This is not to say you want them to be in conflict with their procurement department; what you want is for you to be the hero, supplying products or services that the stakeholders can’t do without.
You do this by not going anywhere near discussions on price and supply with your stakeholders until they are drooling all over what you’ve got. That way, the stakeholders who really, really want what you have will be your friends and supporters.
4) Be precise in your next expectations
Identify the steps, in real time, that need to be taken for progress to be made. Procurement may well not comprehend the importance or the value of what you have to offer. You can outline in detail what has to happen for progress to be made.
Get the commitments from both parties out in the open. Analyse the timings that you have to work to. Work WITH the purchasing team, opening up opportunities for things to be worked through.
Keep your follow-up process clearly defined. Be the proactive one in all communications. Ask how things are progressing. See if the teams need anything else from you before they make decisions. Make it easy for them to deal with you.
Remember the whole purpose of their procurement team…to make sure the purchasing company is getting the best value they can. Use your selling smarts to recognise this and support the decision-making process every step of the way.