Procurement: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?


Lately, I heard some sales executives complaining about procurement, giving them a hard time. True, procurement professionals are tough negotiators – many attended training to learn negotiating tactics, but I wonder if the statement “giving you a hard time” is correct. It insinuates that they are on purpose, blocking you or delaying decisions. I argue that the way you look at procurement professionals is an attitude or mindset that makes you the blocker or enabler. You should ask yourself the question: Is procurement part of your problem or part of your solution?

Procurement teams are tasked with:

  • Getting the best value for the money they spend
  • Choose suppliers that will perform
  • Choose services that will meet the demands of their customers

It is also their role to reduce risk to protect their company from disruptions and failures. In short, they are employed by their company for all these reasons. And they are expected to report back to senior management with advice and the best recommendation. They need to be able to justify their preference, including the benefit and risks of choice. But also the risk of progressing with alternative options. They will look at the greatest return on investment.

Now read the previous paragraph back, not from a sales perspective, but a procurement perspective. What type of salesperson would you feel the most comfortable with? The hard negotiator or the one who is helping you (the procurement person) do your job better?

Instead of being sucked into a spreadsheet comparison, enable them to complete their buying task better. Show you have done your homework, wearing a business acumen hat. Share the situational knowledge you gained and ask questions as if you are part of their team. Convince them that further input from other stakeholders is needed. A change should be looked at from all angles: Operational, CS, Marketing, Sales, and Finance. Strategic value counts. Help them recognize external trends that may impact their business. Help them to understand why their status quo is at risk. Help them understand what solutions are possible, why you are unique and why investments need to be made to come out on top of the food chain. Help them to see the strategic value of change. You must have the same thoughts as them; What is the best recommendation for their company?

You will be perceived as a Trusted Advisor if you enable them:

  • Reporting up risks of alternative options, accompanied by evidence.
  • Building a strong business case for your solution, accompanied by data and analytics
  • Recommending an informed decision based on strategic value and ROI

Sure, procurement professionals will negotiate for the best price. That is also their job. But they also understand that the lowest margin comes with poor service. They don’t like to take major risks. Help them to help you and make them part of your solution. The choice is yours!


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  1. Wow! Great insights! Having the right mindset is the key. 🙂 Thank you, Ton!

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