‘New Year’s’ resolutions – No.1: Engage those stakeholders

I described the other day how this feels to me like the beginning of the year; so on that theme, here is the first of a series of potential New Year's Resolutions for procurement people.

Most of us are pretty good (or at least we like to think we are) at managing the external dimension of our role; suppliers and markets.  But I suspect if we took a confidential poll, most procurement folk, from buyers to CPOs, would confess that many of our biggest issues and problems come from how we manage (or don't manage) our internal stakeholders.

So as our first resolution, why not spend a couple of hours, individually or as a team, thinking about who your key internal stakeholders are, what their views are on procurement, and how you can improve the way you work with them?

There are many tools you can use for this - far too many to go into here.  But do think about it from a sales point of view. I did my first ever sales training course at the age of 43 and really wished I'd done it sooner (SPIN selling from Huthwaite - very good it was too).  Those principles of identifying what the customer's problem is, the implications of that problem, and how you can help solve it, are as relevant to a procurement person handling internal contacts as they are to a sales person.

What can you as a category manager offer the IT manager that actually helps them?  How can the CPO position the benefit for the Marketing Director allowing procurement to take a role in selecting and managing the ad agency? These are fundamentally 'sales' issues.

And don't forget the personal aspects of building relationships.  It was fascinating at NatWest to experience the 'bonding' between senior managers that happened once we were under threat of takeover.  Other functional heads - with whom I had been engaged (in some cases) in power struggles for 2 years - suddenly became allies and friends.

I wish I'd made an effort to get to understand their drivers and know them better  - had the odd beer perhaps - before we were forced into that situation.  I suspect it could have made my life - and my team's - much easier.

So put together a stakeholder engagement strategy, whether a full blown end to end plan or at least some highlights on how you are going to improve relationships with 2 or 3 key people.  And make September a new start for getting those key stakeholders on your side.

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