Buddying up to procurement

Procurement professionals are becoming more influential in the selection of
accountancy firms, and that involvement looks to rise. So how do you become of a
buddy of procurement and win the client? Is procurement there to drive fees to
the lowest denominator or can you engage them in other ways?

‘Strategic sourcing’ initiatives may indeed vary in their implementation but
are definitely on the rise, both in the public and private sectors.

Accountancy firms have experienced many different approaches. On the one
hand, they have faced aggressive short-term focus and price-driven tenders, on
the other, they’ve encountered complex discussions with procurement focused on
assessing the long-term value their organisation will gain.

So, not all procurement involvement focuses on reducing fees. Your challenge
is to work out what their key motive is and satisfy it in a way that’s
profitable for you.

You need to find out where procurement stands in the client organisation.
What influence it has? Does procurement make the final decision, or is that left
to the FD? Knowing this degree of involvement will guide you in what proportion
of your sales pitch needs to be directed at procurement.

If that sales pitch is to hit the right notes, you’ll need a clear
understanding of the procurement process being followed. How is your offering to
be judged? What criteria is your firm being measured against? Spend sufficient
time preparing and planning your meetings with procurement professionals – they
certainly will.

As well as procurement , you’ll also need to win over others on the
decision-making panel. Again, knowledge of the organisation’s needs will be
crucial. It will enable you to focus on offering the best ideas to solve these

It’s very likely that the discussion will touch on your fees and you should
expect to be told you are “too expensive”. The trick here is to avoid changing
your price or your proposal too quickly. Instead, try and impress on them your
belief in your offering. Also, make sure that if you have to concede something
you get something back in return.

In the long term it is wise to build relationships with procurement early on.
The later they enter the ‘buying cycle’ the more they will concentrate on adding
value to their organisation by reducing your price.

John Timperley is managing director of The Results Consultancy.

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