How to Market Procurement's Value Beyond Cost Savings
By Hugo Britt | October 25, 2022
Surprise and delight is a marketing strategy used by savvy brands as a highly effective means of customer retention. Done correctly, it can drive increased brand engagement, encourage positive word of mouth, and lead to repeat purchases.
But why should procurement surprise and delight its stakeholders? Because it’s a highly effective way of expanding the organization’s understanding of the value procurement can bring beyond cost savings.
Essentially, the aim is to:
- Surprise: “I didn’t know procurement could do that!”
- Delight: “This has made my job a lot easier!”
Cost savings are a given, but procurement should seek to surprise and delight stakeholders by unearthing additional value such as environmental benefits, increased diversity, or innovation.
For episode 83 of The Sourcing Hero podcast, we were joined by Sarah Kaye, VP of Procurement at Spin Mobility. Sarah has also worked in procurement for major brands including Target, Radisson Hotel Group, and WeWork, with additional background in marketing and sales. This marketing background has been incredibly valuable for Sarah’s mission to expand stakeholders’ perception of procurement’s value beyond cost savings.
How to surprise and delight the customer in procurement
For Sarah, it’s all about the end user. “What’s going to move the needle for our customers? How do we build this relationship and demonstrate the value?” she asks.
“For us, our customers are our internal business stakeholders in the different departments we work with. The biggest way that I can surprise and delight them is by demonstrating that I’m not only about getting the lowest price.”
“For procurement, [cost is] a given, but we can [bring] more than that. We are looking to help stakeholders find the partner that will add the most value – whether it’s higher quality, better SLAs, or making it so they spend less time trying to escalate a problem to a vendor’s helpdesk. We’re overcoming the stigma that procurement only cares about driving down the best price.”
Procurement isn't just about speed, either
According to Sarah, many procurement professionals make the mistake of thinking the best way to surprise and delight stakeholders is to just execute faster.
“I’m definitely guilty of this in my younger, earlier years,” says Sarah. “If a stakeholder reached out to me for help on a contract, I would want to get through it quickly and still do a good job vetting the vendor, finding ways to try to negotiate better terms, new wins, or better value to the contract. That’s what I thought was really a surprise and delight.”
Looking back, Sarah thinks there is a better way to get your desired outcome by emphasizing the process to stakeholders and get them to question (and understand) certain things:
- Do we even need this new vendor?
- Do we even need this new contract?
- What are the downstream effects of adding another vendor?
- Are we now going to diversify our spend and our portfolio?
- Does that give us better leverage across your category?
“I think that that’s how we surprise and delight – sometimes, by just saying ‘no’ or ‘we don’t need this.’ It’s honestly the best way and I think that’s important to call out,” says Sarah.
Procurement's value includes understanding customer goals and needs
Sarah also believes in the importance of establishing what stakeholders’ goals and needs are. Procurement can ask stakeholders/customers questions such as:
- What would turn this vendor or this program into something that you would want to share with your boss or post to the company’s intranet?
- What aspects are most important to you?
- What is in your department’s roadmap for the next 3, 6, 12 months?”
- I really want to understand your department’s needs in the long term and help you achieve them.
Leverage procurement’s relationship with finance to assist stakeholders
Sarah notes that procurement’s close relationship with finance provides an opportunity to add a lot of value.
“We can become an advocate because we’ve helped to verify the ROI – not only the ROI for that stakeholder, but we know how to position it for approval because we’ve verified that this makes the best sense for what finance needs. For example, if it’s a new software we’re looking to buy, we have vetted that this contract and negotiation has legs that support the company’s three-year plans.”
Interested in learning more? Listen to Sarah’s entire podcast episode here.
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