How can Procurement win Marketing stakeholders?
Are you newly-hired and finding it difficult to win the trust of your stakeholders? Or perhaps you have been working in the company for quite some time, but there is still that marketeer who keeps bypassing Procurement no matter what you or your teammates do.
It is indeed very difficult for Procurement to deliver valuable work when there is no cooperation from the stakeholder side. But how to change the game and ensure that Procurement and Marketing work together as one Team?
Below are three solutions that have proven quite effective based on your modest writer’s experience. And they could potentially work well for you and your stakeholder. Just give it a try and I am sure you will find even better solutions.
01 – LISTEN CAREFULLY
Just put yourself for a moment in your client’s shoes. What are the key priorities of your company’s marketeers? What is their work routine like? What are the main challenges of your stakeholder? If you know the answers to all these questions, then you are aware that Procurement is not in the top of the list of most Marketeers (with rare exceptions).
Now, how can you be in the top of their list, or at least become part of the solution for a few of their problems? Well, the answer is: do not guess and ask them! The majority of the stakeholders have tough objectives to deliver and they face all sorts of pressure. Be interested in better understanding their reality and many times you will receive tons of valuable information from your client.
The secrete here is to demonstrate openness and interest in your stakeholder’s work. Listen carefully to what they have to say. Take notes and ask questions. This will not only start building a relationship of trust between the two of you but it will also help you find opportunities in which Procurement can bring solutions to a few of the stakeholder’s problems. It can be a change of supplier, or the improvement of an existing one, or even the need to find a new provider for a new scope or category.
Once you demonstrate that you are interested in helping your clients win their objectives with Procurement-related solutions, then you will notice a big change: more cooperation, more early involvement of Procurement in new projects and more compliance to Procurement processes. And then, you are working as one Team.
02 – BE FLEXIBLE
Most marketeers do not like working with Procurement because they experience this department as too slow, adding too much bureaucracy and zero value to the table. Not to mention that stakeholders often have the impression that Procurement behaves like their police or compliance offer. With that in mind, it is no surprise that Procurement is easily bypassed in new initiatives.
As a Procurement employee, you do not wish to slow down your client and delay projects due to compliance procedures. At the same time, you need to ensure each process follows your company’s rules and policies. After all, this is one of your objectives. So, how do you manage to get both speed and compliance, when they seem to work against each other?
You work under flexibility, which means that projects may not always start perfectly compliant, but they will definitely end-up one hundred percent compliant. Negotiate with your stakeholders: give them speed, and, in return, they work under the requested compliance procedures. With a bit of work, Procurement can find creative ways to accommodate the client’s needs in a compliant manner.
If it sounds too theoretical, maybe this example can help: a group of clients finally decided to cooperate with Procurement for a certain marketing category, but they have too many projects (including urgent ones) and a bunch of non-compliant suppliers in their list. As a solution, Procurement led one competitive process with clients preferred suppliers plus Procurement recommended vendors. This process was composed by different projects and deadlines, meaning that suppliers could choose the one(s) they wanted to apply. This way Procurement worked in separate deadlines (per project). The workload was manageable and the process compliant. Meanwhile, clients got projects done within the deadline and in cooperation with Procurement. After the competitive process was finished, the amount of suppliers decreased: only a pool of vendors was approved based on quality and cost competitiveness presented in each project. Not bad at all, right?
03 – ESCALATE
If you have tried various cooperative and flexible approaches, but all were in vain, then it is time to play the last (and unpleasant) card: the escalation. This approach is definitely conflictive and could cost your relationship with the client. However, if the stakeholder was not cooperating with you anyways, then there is not much relationship to lose, if any.
When you make the escalation to your manager, it is very important to provide hard evidence of the several attempts you made to work well with the marketeer. Additionally, you need to demonstrate with hard proof that the client is bypassing you and not following Procurement policies.
Your manager should take the matter to the client’s manager and they should agree on the best way forward so the issue is eventually resolved. Potentially there will be compromises from both parts (yours and your client’s) and you may not enjoy working together. However, it is part of one’s development to be a good professional and get the work done even under unfriendly circumstances.
Potentially the relationship can improve within time and you can ultimately win your client’s trust (and vice-versa). This has happened with me before, so it can happen to you too.
To sum up, when you work with Marketing categories, the cooperation of your stakeholders is key for you to reach your Procurement objectives. Most of the time you can win your clients’ trust by:
- listening carefully to their needs and finding Procurement solutions to their challenges;
- working in a flexible manner by making adjustments to the process while keeping it compliant;
- and, if needed, escalations can be done as a last resort.
Liking each other or not, Procurement and Business need to work as one Team to achieve greater success. I hope this helps you win all your marketeers with as little trouble and as much fun as possible.