A vital partnership

9 October 2012
Rocco ImprevedutoI’m the last person who thought they’d be writing about the relationship between marketing and procurement. I’m naturally territorial when it comes to my business and I’ve been burned by procurement teams at other stops along my career path. So, when I was told 
John Chandy, category manager of electronic marketing from global procurement at Reed Elsevier, would be reaching out to partner with me on the most important RFP I’d conduct here at LexisNexis, my reaction was simply: “No!”. At that point, I sincerely felt like procurement was my sworn enemy – a bureaucratic hurdle I didn’t have the time, energy, or inclination to deal with. Begrudgingly, I agreed to sit down with John and talk about our search for a new agency. His energy and enthusiasm encouraged me and, most importantly, I got the feeling that our individual goals could align and we could do what’s best – not only for my portion of the business, but for the company as a whole. We agreed no matter what, we’d keep the lines of communication 100 per cent open. He and I were going to be completely transparent with each other to eliminate the risk of miscommunication. We also reached a quick resolution on deadlines and tollgates. But that was the easy part. Although we led the RFP, multiple business units were involved, each with different spend levels, goals and analytics needs. With so many stakeholders, information itself became critical, especially knowing what not to share with our prospective partners – something John was particularly adept at. His overall management of the RFP also cannot be overlooked. He had to co-ordinate between several internal stakeholders attached to different product lines, eight initial prospective partners and multiple parties on both sides. Between the initial responses, follow-up questions, co-ordinating meetings, follow-ups and the rigorous vetting process we established, this could have easily taken six months to execute. Thanks to John diligently running points, aggressively soliciting feedback from all parties and making each business owner feel their opinions were heard, we finished in less than two. Once we selected our partner, John stepped up and owned the negotiations. I gave him our acceptable parameters for success. The final stages were difficult, with many unanticipated hurdles. But John remained vigilant, operated with a business-first focus and delivered in a big way. He managed to negotiate points that I hadn’t considered, but can honestly say I’m benefiting from now. In the end – by any measure – this partnership was a resounding success. We saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, partnered with the perfect agency for our business and agreed to work together on all related projects 
going forward. Top tips for procurement professionals: 1. Approach internal customers with insight and enthusiasm. 2. Try to align your objectives with that of your stakeholder. 3. Be prepared to move quickly: if your stakeholder is in need of a product or service, they don’t want you delaying its delivery. 4. Work out where you can add value, whether it’s a service improvement, rate reduction, innovation or risk mitigation. 5. Help co-ordinate the project by setting up meetings, keeping all parties in the loop and arranging follow-up meetings. 6. Offer advice on what information should and shouldn’t be shared with prospective suppliers. 7. Think “business-first” and take that approach throughout. ☛ Rocco Impreveduto is senior director, 
consumer marketing at LexisNexis 
(part of the Reed Elsevier Group)
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