One wag suggested Procurement is the art of pretending not to be the slightest bit interested in buying anything on offer whilst simultaneously being desperate to supply products and services urgently to their own company.
I think it was me.
But Procurement has changed or at least is well on the way to changing and you should be prepared for it.
Together with Paul Rogers, an acclaimed international procurement guru, we have produced over 3 hours of podcast content to help you navigate the world of selling to procurement in 2014.
You can check it out here http://pelade.org/index.php/new-podcasts
Here are a few insights into the new world of selling to procurement:
Harry Halitosis is dying out
Harry grew up in purchasing and gravitated to procurement in a fluke restructure where he learned to grow his own dandruff and bark rudely at suppliers who didn’t give him what he wanted.
Harry has no vision and his company wouldn’t dare give him visibility on their real needs so he can’t make any decisions of note. Handling Harry is simple – go around him and stop being such a Wuss about probity and the document that says you can’t.
Harry won’t buy from you anyway unless you’re cheaper than a Cambodian Call Centre Worker.
However, you won’t need to stock up on breath mints for Harry for much longer.
He is being replaced by a new breed of Procurement professional, increasingly female, well educated and with a broader view of value.
She is also very well educated in the art of negotiation, so you’d better be too.
Did I mention the podcasts yet?
New Procurement Now Has Real Power
Newer procurement professionals often come with strong lines of business background including Operations, Finance, HR, IT and would you believe, Sales.
They not only know their supply chain and how it works, they are well networked in their industry and can Google faster than your 12 year old when a new app comes out.
To top it off they are given real authority by their senior stakeholders.
If you sell products and services that are classified as Indirect Spend (not material to their core function) like IT, Print, Travel, Labour Hire, Equipment, Professional Services etc, chances are they have the imprimatur to guide and drive a lot of decisions.
I know of at least two clients that have the Chief Procurement Officer reporting directly to the CEO and are afforded the autonomy accordingly.
Sales 101 cheese, crappy rapport building and talking brochure sales behaviour will fail miserably.
The way you craft your offer and negotiate from there will be critical.
Real cases studies as opposed to the new testimonials you have in Alabama or Kazakhstan will be vital.
These procurement people are like a squad of Liam Neesons.
They have a very special set of skills, they will hunt you down, they will find you and they will kill you…… You will be ‘Taken’ in the negotiation if not careful and that means serious margin is at stake, not to mention onerous deliverables.
You Are Always Negotiating
When we run negotiation skills training for sales people it’s typically a couple of days a year.
Your new procurement friends will spend up to 8 days a year in formal and informal training and certifications.
By the time you’ve picked up your first double strength ristretto/skinny latte/macchiato, Procurement will have negotiated their first 100k in savings for the day.
You should always have multiple options, tender compliant or outside the scope of the tender – good procurement people will look at it, even if only to pick your brains and leverage the incumbent, if it’s not you.
You should implicitly know where you can move and where you can’t and you need a shield as big as the ozone layer to handle all myriad of tactics.
it’s a new world – Jarryd Hayne is off to play NFL, Rap is still considered music and Procurement is armed, educated and licensed to buy.
This message will self destruct in 5 seconds.
if you want to avoid self destruction go to the Sales V Procurement Podcasts HERE:
As CEO of Salient Communication, Elliot is a sought after keynote speaker and corporate trainer who has coached and trained over 4000 people including CEOs, senior management and successful sales teams throughout Australasia and Asia including Hong Kong and Singapore.
Elliot is a specialist sales speaker for high profile corporates having spoken at over 1500 conferences, workshops and break-out sessions on presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.
He is renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children