HOW TO PROSPECT TO PROCUREMENT

I’m often asked by my agency clients what to do about procurement when performing outreach to large companies. Most agencies would prefer to avoid procurement if they had the choice (although few do nowadays). In fact, in industries like healthcare where procurement has a lot of power, some agencies feel like it’s futile to even prospect in the vertical at all. I disagree, and in fact, I feel procurement is a critical target of your outreach efforts within large companies, but they do require some finesse. Here are a few rules of thumb. 1) Identify the right procurement person and consider their background and what they are hired/fired for (most of this information can be gleaned from Linked In). Just like every other prospect, they have key performance indicators they are trying to reach and barriers or obstacles that get in their way. What are they trying to achieve in their job? How does your agency help them meet their objectives and overcome their barriers? Here’s an example in the healthcare vertical, which has been reducing costs by consolidating agency relationships over the past few years. In this instance, its procurement’s job to figure out which agencies are best suited to these consolidated models. Perhaps your agency has had a lot of success implementing new, more streamlined models of working with large companies (in healthcare or other verticals). Procurement would probably be interested in learning how you did it and what tools, technologies and processes you employed. Offer to share it with them on a one-on-one call. 2) Let them know your intentions on the call. You want to work with this company, so don’t be shy about asking them how to do it, especially if you are sharing valuable information with them. What’s their review process? When will they be reviewing agencies again? What are their evaluation criteria? What can you do now to be included in the next review? Procurement can be a valuable resource for insights and information if you are open, cordial and respectful. 3) Don’t let them become a bottle neck. Let’s be clear. Procurement is important but not as important as the marketing team. You will still need to drive desire for your services with the marketers themselves, so don’t let procurement block you from this important outreach. You don’t need to ask their permission. Just be discrete, and work on parallel paths. That said, I would definitely recommend letting the marketing team know that you are also talking to procurement (and following their protocols). It will make it easier for them to speak with you if they know no rules are being broken. It’s a dance, but it’s worth it. There’s no quicker way to shut down prospecting efforts inside a large company than to ignore procurement, which they don’t appreciate very much. So, include them instead and differentiate your agency in the process.

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