How to stop Procurement taking the wind out of your sales

Matt_Drought
Director
Natural Training
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You've spent the past nine months carefully executing your sales strategy on an exciting prospect. If the deal goes through it will be your company's biggest client and the future revenue potential is huge. Having fully engaged your contacts within the target company, you made it through to head of department.

Finally, your pitch to the managing director goes down a storm.
Ok, Im happy with this, the MD says. "I just want you to finalise things with our man in Procurement and it will be completed. The word finalise” makes all the sweat, blood and tears of the sale worthwhile. All you have to do now is cross the t’s and dot the i’s with someone from procurement. Simple.

A swift Google search will tell you that “best possible cost” is pretty much the Procurement professional’s motto, so this is going to be a conversation driven by cost and investment value. More than that, procurement will want to drill down on pricing and launch an analysis into the value you can provide. It’s numbers time, but you’re prepared for that, right?
 

“This is way too expensive.  You’ll have to come back with something better than that. Call me next week.” This is the earth shattering reality that Procurement professionals are trained to deliver to sales people. They want the best deal and from nowhere have seemingly taken over the sale and crushed your hopes of doing a deal.

 

As the seller you’d already accepted that you had closed the deal. Suddenly the momentum shifts back to the customer. You can’t lose this, so what happens now?

 

You have three options:
1. Walk away – there’s no way you can reduce your price or muster up the energy to negotiate all over again with someone new.
2. Drop your price – basically give them what they want. Better to walk away with something than nothing at all.
3. Negotiate confidently with Procurement to protect your value and get what you want.
 
You need to be in a position to take option 3 every single time. In my sales training experience (which goes back further than I care to remember) there are few businesses that adequately equip their sales teams to negotiate with Procurement. This is despite the fact that procurement professionals want one thing: unbelievable value.
 
So here’s the situation, you’ve lost all your previous relationship building with your contacts which means no “let’s head out for a beer to talk about this”. You’re on the back foot because someone who you really want to tell where to go is in complete control. Here at Natural Training we have a comprehensive sales training programme that equips delegates to handle procurement effectively.
 
We can’t reveal it all here but the following THREE powerful insights will help to get you started

1) Where’s your true value?

As with all negotiations you have to take a deep breath and think, ‘where’s my value’? Importantly if you can get past the initial shock introduction of the last hurdle (which incidentally is twice as high as the others) you should get clarity of mind and remember that the person in front of you wants something that you can give.
This conversation wouldn’t even be happening otherwise.
If you know where your value is you should be pretty confident in knowing where to stand your ground. Let’s imagine for a second that you sell computer technology to businesses. A deal for 500 laptops and 50 printers is about to go through, when procurement step in and refuse the deal.
They want to negotiate on the sale for both. Remembering your proposal to the MD you know that the laptops are vital for new starting employees but the printers were an optional extra to replace existing units. They can live without them. If there’s more value for the customer in the laptops, take control of the sale and show real reluctance to back down. You can therefore reduce the price by offering to take out the printers.

 

2) Take the emotion out
All your lavish gifts and clever networking has just gone out the window. The person that you’re dealing with now has no interest in pre-existing relationships.
Procurement care about one thing: cost. Understand that the negotiation scenario that you are in right now is purely driven by numbers. With that in mind where can you reduce cost in a way that has minimal impact on the overall revenue? More importantly, how can you support your argument with figures?
This is where your sophisticated ‘investment versus savings’ chart will come in handy so don’t forget it. At Natural Training we have a Matrix that all Procurement people look at during this negotiation phase.  At the heart of our training sits this Matrix – so you know what Procurement is thinking, and how they operate.  If you get the hang of it, you can actually turn the tables and use the same tool to get the advantage!

 

3) Remember how you got there
Let’s go back to the start for a moment. What were the particular pain points that you and your product or service could combat and what was it specifically that the company liked about the service? It’s these golden nuggets that you will need to call on to help push that sale through.
Don’t start looking for new reasons why the company should buy from you because all that work has already been done. What you need to focus on right now is being confident in what you’re selling and remembering why and how you got to this moment.
Someone somewhere saw value in you and the products you’re selling – it’s time to call upon those earlier conversations and utilise the information to close that deal!

Dealing with procurement is part of sales and just like in major sporting tournaments because you have to play the big teams at some point if you want to lift the trophy. That said, the teams that succeed in tournaments have individual strategies for every stage – and the sales process should be no different. If you approach procurement in the same way you sell to fresh prospects or warm leads, you need to reassess your entire approach. You’re at a different stage, so is your sales strategy adapting accordingly?

Don’t dread this stage of the process, have the ability to embrace it!

Matt Drought
Director at Sales Training specialists, Natural Training 

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