Joining – not spoiling – the party

4 July 2012
Procurement can sometimes be viewed by sales teams as the party poopers, intent on dampening a hot lead. It’s true that procurement do ‘put the blocks on’ sometimes, but those blocks are there for a reason, and ultimately will help to secure a sale and a long-term customer.It’s not a case of in-house buyers deliberately trying to derail a potential deal – far from it. The intention here is to highlight checks that will ultimately help convert a potential lead. Here are some pointers that help procurement to join the party and not spoil it: 1. Pre engage – winning over and keeping influential members of the sales force on side can help save difficult conversations later on. Having the sales force armed with the right questions for a potential customer definitely helps. Actively brief and meet with the sales team. 2. Don’t bring the shutters down – one of the big stereotypes is that procurement is full of people that say no to everything. Be supportive and understanding on the face of it but of course be realistic and honest in your approach. 3. Don’t deviate all of the time – stick to a process, otherwise the overall credibility that’s taken time and effort to establish will be damaged. Be flexible but not expendable. 4. Move fast, with the sales team – At Office Depot, once a lead has been developed we get everyone together immediately to gather as much information about the enquiry. Involve all relevant elements of the business from the outset. We’ve found by following these steps we have a much more engaged and aware sales force – and in some cases have helped develop long-term customers. Getting in with the right information and process early can save a procurement team and a sales team from travelling down different paths and ultimately will help both parties reach their common end goal – happy customers. ☛ Matthew Smith is head of procurement at Office Depot UK & Ireland
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