What will a thriving procurement function look like over the next five years or so? In this installment of the series, I join with Gregg Brandyberry, my partner at Wildfire Commerce, to explore a critical skill we believe is necessary to procurement professionals: the ability to get your business partners on your side.
Our original goal was to determine what procurement professionals should do in order to persuade decision makers to approve and fund their initiatives. However, when we engaged 15 procurement professionals and a CFO in a dialogue on this topic, we were intrigued by a broader theme that emerged: the importance of getting the people you’re trying to influence onto your side.
It may seem obvious that such influencing skills are important, but it’s not obvious what one should do. Here are six of the key ideas that came out of the session:
- Power. You need to understand power, and be skilled at internal marketing. People with power in the company get done what they want done. If they don’t see value in your project … fuhgeddaboudit! Understand how things look from their perspective; build relationships; make sure you can clearly communicate the value to them, or “it ain’t going nowhere” — even if it’s the best idea in the world.
- Credibility. Part of what gets your project approved is credibility. What is it? It’s “Can she get it done?” “Does he have a proven track record?” How do you gain it? By delivering consistently on your commitments over a period of time.
- Resistance. How do you reduce resistance and create buy-in to your change effort? First, understand that people feel threatened by change; they worry about what’s going to happen to them. So, you have to create buy-in. How do you do that? Partly through engaging those who will be affected. Get groups to give you their business requirements. Ask what’s most important to them. Let them shape the plan. Communicate what it’s all about. Get those with power on your side (re-read #1 above)…