Selling to Procurement: How to Get to “Yes” Faster
As a sales leader, you know how important it is to work with Procurement to get a deal closed. However, navigating the procurement process can be difficult and time-consuming. By understanding the procurement process, identifying the business need, knowing who has authority, and being tenacious in your follow-up, your team will be in a better position to close deals on time. Let’s dive in on what sales reps can do to get to "yes" faster.
Step 1: Establish a Partnership with Procurement
The first step is to understand the rules under which Procurement is playing. So think of them as partners or stakeholders in the opportunity instead of adversaries. See if you can meet with them and determine their timelines, process, and priorities.
Frequently, large organizations publish their procurement policies and map out how they engage with partners and the steps to become an approved vendor or get a project approved. So, understand those steps and make sure you appreciate what you need to do to become accepted as a vendor and get that project moving forward.
Step 2: Assess the Business Need
The second step goes to the business need, which speaks to how badly the buyers need this problem solved. How big is it? How significant? What's the impact on the organization? When do they need it solved? If there’s a delay in the project or it gets stuck in Procurement, knowing if there’s urgency and a compelling need can help you reignite the process.
For example, you could say, "Well, you know, the stakeholders stated that they want to implement this by the beginning of the quarter, so we need to get the contract finalized in the next two weeks. Do you see any issues with that timeline? " Maybe you can even get some support from your business sponsors to keep that moving.
If there isn't a compelling need or a timeline, that should be a red flag that this isn't going to move forward as quickly as you thought, or maybe the prospect is just kicking the tires.
Step 3: Identify Decision-Makers and Stakeholders
The third step speaks to the authority and the involvement of stakeholders. In other words, who needs to be involved in making this decision, and how is your solution aligned with them?
Often, when opportunities go into the Procurement process, they get stuck, and you're not sure what's happening. Often procurement prevents you from speaking directly with the steering committee or stakeholder group. And if you have those mystery decision-makers or people that you have not yet had an opportunity to present to, it means you haven't had the chance to sell and show the value of your solution.
So, map the organization, understand who's involved, and know who will weigh in and who gets to vote in the decision-making process. Also, if you have coaches involved, they can help you answer some of those questions and keep things moving forward.
Finally, outline the necessary actions and dates. If you understand procurement tactics and the steps needed, you should have a work plan with activities and actions you and the client need to take to finalize that agreement.
Sales professionals often get frustrated when the procurement process is fuzzy or left open for interpretation because things aren't moving quickly enough. But many organizations specify exactly what needs to happen and the commitments from both parties to keep that opportunity moving forward. You can avoid surprises, control that opportunity, and move forward.
Step 4: Follow-up and Take Control of the Deal
The final piece about how to keep that opportunity from dying or getting stuck in Procurement is being tenacious in your follow-up. Be the first to respond, answer questions, and turn around agreements. Be the first in line at every opportunity, and you'll be in a better position to go back and say, "Hey, where are we with this? What else can we do to keep this moving forward?"
In some ways, this is a test for how your organization is going to be to work with as a partner. You want to be seen as earning the right to do business there, being easy to work with, and not creating additional headaches or risks for the organization. The last thing you want is for the client to wait for you to respond and for somebody else to get in there and either close the deal or distract them from looking at your opportunity or your proposal.
In conclusion, outline the process from proposal through closing. What needs to happen, and by whom? What's the timeline? What are the key steps? What can you do? And more importantly, what are you expecting the customer to do? Once you have those agreements, you're better positioned to take control of that deal and close it on time.
Key Metrics and Indicators to Track Success
Tracking key metrics and indicators is essential to measure your success in selling to Procurement. It enables you to identify where you need to improve and where you're excelling. Here are some key metrics and indicators you should track:
- Time to Close: The time it takes to close a deal is a crucial metric to track. This metric will enable you to identify bottlenecks in negotiation tactics in Procurement and areas you need to improve to close deals faster.
- Win Rate: The win rate is the percentage of deals you've won compared to the total number of deals you've pursued. Tracking your win rate over time will enable you to see if you're improving or declining and whether you need to adjust your sales approach.
- Sales Velocity: Sales velocity is the rate at which you generate revenue. Tracking your sales velocity will enable you to measure your sales team's productivity and efficiency and identify ways to increase revenue.
- Customer Satisfaction: Customer satisfaction is crucial to the success of your sales team. Tracking customer satisfaction will enable you to identify areas where you need to improve and measure your customers' satisfaction with your products and services.
- Procurement Process Metrics: Tracking procurement process metrics, such as the number of RFPs received, the number of proposals submitted, and the number of deals closed, will enable you to measure the effectiveness of your approach for working with procurement.
By tracking these metrics and indicators, you can identify areas for improvement, measure your success, and make data-driven decisions to improve your sales team's performance.
Leveraging Technology to Streamline the Procurement Process
In addition to understanding the procurement process, leveraging technology can also help streamline the process and get to yes faster. Many procurement teams use procurement software to manage the process. By understanding and using the procurement team's software, you can streamline the process and make it easier for the procurement team to work with you.
One way to leverage technology is by using e-procurement portals. These portals allow suppliers to submit their proposals online, saving time and reducing errors. They also allow suppliers to track their proposals' status and receive real-time updates. If your prospect or client has a procurement portal, ensure you learn how to use it effectively and leverage it to speed up the deal approval process.
Another way to leverage technology is by using electronic signatures. Instead of sending physical copies of contracts back and forth, electronic signatures allow you to sign and execute contracts quickly and efficiently.
Using technology can also help with communication. Using tools like email, chat, or project management software lets you inform the procurement team of progress, answer questions, and address any concerns in real time. It can help build trust and keep the process moving forward.
Selling to Procurement can be difficult and time-consuming, but you can increase your chances of getting to "yes" faster using these four steps.
First, understand the rules and steps of Procurement negotiation strategies, so you can become an approved vendor and get the project moving forward. Second, clearly identify and articulate the business problem you’re solving for the customer, the client’s urgency, and the impact on the organization. Third, understand the authority and involvement of stakeholders in the decision-making process. Fourth, be tenacious in your follow-up so you don't miss any opportunities to move the deal forward.
Additionally, tracking key metrics and indicators, such as time to close, win/loss ratio, and average deal size, can help you measure your success and improve where needed. And don’t forget to use technology to your advantage when selling to Procurement.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is the General Manager of the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation, and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.
- Connect with Ray Makela