When you make mention of the client’s procurement depart to ad-agency people, their eyes automatically role to the back of their heads and they invariably let out a groan of frustration. It really does not have to be like that. Let me share with you why.
Whether we like it or not, I can assure you that client procurement departments are going to continue to become more and more involved. This is especially the case in difficult economic time’s when companies are trying to better manage every cent of expenditure. Their focus is not necessarily lowest cost, but more often than not best value for their company. They will pay a reasonable fee for acceptable perceived value. If you approach the relationship understanding this, you actually have a good chance of making them your friend versus your foe.
Inherent within the ad-agency business are legacy practices that tend to be “like a red flag to a bull” to most procurement professionals. Ignoring this fact and trying to “pull one over them,” is counterproductive and will only make your life more difficult. Put yourself in their position and consider what approach would be best from their perspective. Here are some suggestions:
- Focus on the value you deliver first and then move on to fees. Just because you put in the hours does not mean you should be paid for them. Most procurement people perceive paying for hours as nothing more than an incentive for you to spend more time than necessary. Start by documenting the value you bring and the results you deliver. Then move onto to fees.
- Know your audience. Spend some time in advance researching what is likely to be important to them, both from a company perspective and individual perspective. What company initiatives are top of mind? What is that particular person’s hot buttons? Forewarned is forearmed.
- Share industry information. The procurement person you are dealing with may not be very familiar with our industry. Most of the job may entail purchasing products and materials. Take the time to share with them industry information and common practices etc.
- Be confident, prepared and stand your ground. That does not mean be arrogant and demanding. Rather exude a quiet confidence, know your facts and have back up at your fingertips. Do not cave to intimidation in the early stages. Quite often they are testing you to see just how much conviction you have.
- Simple, easy to read and no hidden extras. Procurement people are born skeptics and are always looking for the trap. Make sure your proposal is simple, clearly laid out with adequate explanation, and does not contain ambiguity or other misleading items.
What you want is a procurement department that is just as comfortable with you and confident in the partnership as the client marketing team. They can in fact end up being one of your best allies as opposed to you biggest foe.