Tired of waiting for updates from procurement? We feel you. It's probably the hardest part of the sales process, and you have limited visibility into what's actually happening. But there's a pervasive misconception among sales teams that once a deal reaches the procurement stage, it's out of the salesperson's hands—but that's not the case at all.
Our team of Emissaries, made up of former marketing executives from companies like Petco, GNC, and Cisco, all agreed that the procurement process can be grueling. But by preparing for procurement the right way in advance, you can speed the process along later. Here’s their advice for how to keep the line moving and get your product into the the right hands — before your deal runs out of steam.
Understand the procurement process from the outset
Familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of procurement at your prospect’s organization is the first step to ensuring a smoother sales cycle.
“At almost every company I've ever worked with, including a startup,” said an Emissary and former chief marketing officer at Petco. “IT was the longest pathway in the implementation of a project.”
That’s bad news if you’re selling MarTech, as almost all solutions are going to have to pass through IT gatekeepers before a deal can be signed. And in a business where momentum is key, any unforeseen procurement hurdles will slow down the process and hurt your chances of closing the deal.
So be prepared. Collaborate with your advocate to identify who the decision-makers are and understand how they operate.
“Understand how decisions are made. Is it a formalized decision-making process, or is it more informal?” said one former marketing director at GNC. “Is there a procurement team that needs to sign off on every decision of $100,000 or more and needs to see other options? Or can every VP sign off on something up to $500,000 without having to put it in front of a board for review?”
Use the knowledge gained from partnering with an advocate to anticipate setbacks and devise solutions to prevent them.
Know why deals stall
Every enterprise organization has its own set of problems, but there are some common issues that you can prepare for in advance if you want to accelerate the process.
“What you'll see at a lot of large compani
es is you're in the throes of budget reductions or you're in the midst of reorgs that can take months,” said one former senior director of marketing communications at Cisco. “Sometimes unexpected budget challenges mean you have to lengthen the roadmap timeframe. What you had planned in Q3 might now have to wait until Q1 of the next fiscal period.”
Whether it's changing leadership from a departmental reorganization, or an overworked IT department dealing with other, more pressing items in the queue, there’s no shortage of potential obstacles standing between you and a successful sale.
When the procurement works get gummed up, turn to your advocate. Their firsthand organizational knowledge and onsite presence can help keep the deal on track and put pressure on the right teams to speed the review along.
Get creative to overcome obstacles
Your internal advocate can’t do it alone, so divide and conquer for the best results. Control what you can control—for instance, it makes sense to time your pitches to coincide with the end of a quarter, when managers are looking to spend excess funds.
For non-budget-related issues, get a little creative and, as always, be proactive. Demonstrate how you can make the procurement and eventual implementation process as painless as possible for your client and you will increase your odds of winning the business.
“Offer development and implementation team members to implement the solution," our Petco Emissary said."Put a person in your buyer’s office on the ground so that they have access to and can speak directly with experts. Or set up separate meetings with just the IT team, versus the marketing team, because generally they’re going to have different questions and challenges.”
Make life easier for your prospect. Alleviate some of the burden associated with both procurement and implementation. Show that partnering with you is the path of least resistance, and that doing so will enable them to focus their energies elsewhere.
Procurement can be a long, slow, and discouraging process that saps the momentum out of a potential sale. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to anticipate and overcome some of the most common obstacles standing in the way. Work with your internal advocate to understand your prospect organization’s process and identify the key players in procurement. Use this insight to get out in front of potential roadblocks and maintain momentum to get your product across the finish line.
Want more tips for overcoming obstacles and winning deals? Download our Ultimate Enterprise Sales Playbook: Selling Solutions into Marketing Organizations today.