Sourcing professionals are used to being on the buyer’s side of the negotiation, but what can they learn from the other side of the table? In this week’s Art of Procurement podcast, Philip Ideson interviewed our founder Stan Garber on sales best practices sourcing professionals can use to win friends and influence stakeholders internally and across the supply base. We’ve summarized Stan’s top tips for building rapport within the organization (listen to the full podcast to learn more about building strategic supplier partnerships):
Identify Your Champions
If your internal customers aren’t buying sourcing’s services, you might be selling to the wrong people. The average business decision involves 5.4 stakeholders–that’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to managing change. While all stakeholders should be kept in the loop throughout the sourcing process, there are key influencers in every business that deserve your special attention. These “mobilizers” are key to getting buy-in and enacting lasting change across the business, but you can’t identify them by title. Meeting with stakeholders early on and and observing their behavior will help you understand who the go-getters, visionaries, and skeptics are in each line of business and build relationships strategically.
Build Your Pipeline
Once you’ve identified your key influencers, how do you win their trust? Pipeline management is a fundamental sales strategy that sourcing professionals can leverage to position their services as an business opportunity, rather than a roadblock. Much like a successful sales org, utilizing a pipeline system to track the status of ongoing and upcoming projects helps provides visibility into value generated from new sourcing opportunities. This process transparency makes it easy to communicate real-time progress with your stakeholders to build rapport and manage expectations, so there are no surprises when the pen hits the paper.
Celebrate Your Wins
When the business chooses to source their project strategically, it’s your job to make them happy that they did. In Dale Carnegie’s words, that means being “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise” aka, applauding the stakeholder on their win after every sourcing success. Giving credit to the business reaffirms their decision to work with you and incentivizes them to engage sourcing in the future. So, whether you ring a gong, send an email, present at a company standup, or a get an executive’s endorsement, it’s important to reward progress with recognition. After all, a win for sourcing is a win for the business.
Sourcing professionals may find that their toughest customers are within their own companies. Using these tried-and-true sales strategies can help sourcing flip the script to build trust with wary internal stakeholders and increase sourcing’ impact on the organization.