In this five-part series, we explore the necessary elements of selling into large organizations. In Part 3, we explore the strategic importance of procurement in the sales process.
Missed Parts 1 and 2? Go back and check them out!
The role of procurement in the sales process
The role of procurement has evolved over the years from a group that was simply focused on obtaining the best price to a group that looks after various key responsibilities.
The procurement team manages:
- Risk evaluation: How does the proposed solution create or mitigate risk based on the company’s current solution set?
- Solution duplication: Does the proposed solution already exist in the organization? How does the proposed solution add value based on current solutions that are deployed?
- Supplier management: It takes the lead for supplier communication and strategic relationship management.
Tips for working with procurement
How can a salesperson ensure the experience with the procurement group is a positive influence on the sale?
- Involve procurement early: Some salespeople shy away from the procurement group as they sometimes perceive procurement as a roadblock. They want to push the deal as far along as possible before they involve procurement as they worry that this group will potentially slow it down or kill it. And this is absolutely the wrong approach. The key is to treat procurement like partner and involve them early in the sales process. The procurement group will not only appreciate this, but by doing so, they can help resolve challenges near the start, clearing the way for a faster sales process.
- Support the prospective buyer: Sometimes a prospective buyer faces the same procurement challenges as the salesperson. Talk to your prospective buyer about this early on and ask what you can do together to ensure the best possible outcome in the procurement process. For example, be prescriptive with the buyer. You could say, “In working with other procurement groups, I’ve found the group typically has three key questions. Often the best way to answer these questions is…” Cultivating a partnership approach with your prospective buyer from the beginning will go a long way to a successful interaction with procurement.
- Know your solution and the competitive set: A good procurement group will evaluate your solution relative to others based on certain characteristics. Be proactive and do the homework for them. Create a set of collateral materials that not only frames your solution relative to the competition, but explains how yours is the best fit.
Partner with procurement and boost your sales process
In short, treating procurement as a key partner and involving them early will absolutely help to:
- Mitigate against a long, drawn-out sales process.
- Cast your solution in a favourable light compared to the competition.
- Increase the chance of a sale!
by Jeff Bilyea