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Negotiating With Procurement

It's Time for Us to Get Better at This
Topics: Procurement

August 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm by Blair

Few topics make me grind my teeth like the subject of procurement’s role in hiring creative firms. I’ve written about this previously so I’ll stifle my rant here. I will say that it takes two to tango and while I see a lot of ridiculousness coming out of procurement departments, I know that most of the blame for the commoditization of creativity lies on our side of the table.

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About two years ago I started hearing about a procurement consultant who came out of Procter & Gamble and was addressing audiences of creative professionals with a sensible, balanced message about the shortcomings of both parties in the agency-procurement battle. I kept hearing “You must know John Gleason – you guys say the same things.” 

Eventually John and I connected. We’ve since shared stages and dinners together and while we certainly don’t agree on everything we are largely likeminded on the root causes of the frustrations in the procurement-agency relationship. 

John Gleason is my guest expert on this Thursday’s webcast, Negotiating With Procurement. (12:00 Noon EDT; 9:00 AM PDT; 5:00 PM BST; 6:00 PM CET) 

John’s advice for creative firms is broken into two main thrusts. First, what it is that procurement wants from you before you are selected as a preferred choice. Second, key points for negotiating the final path to an agreement. 

On Thursday I’m expecting John to reiterates some common themes on the first subject: most creative firms sound the same, list the same differentiators, identify the same reasons to hire them. The second part of his talk is an area that we in the creative professions need to get a whole lot better at: negotiating. This has got me tingling with anticipation.

Very few agency folks are trained in sales, let alone negotiating. Conversely, every procurement professional you encounter is trained in negotiating. So, while you’re navigating this path on gut feel, your counterpart is employing a well-defined and rehearsed strategy. Additionally, your procurement counterpart has zero emotional involvement in the purchase. None. You are likely to be heavily invested emotionally. How well can you reasonably expect things to go when you’re significantly outgunned before the first conversation? 

John’s going to help you shore up your disadvantage on these two fronts. I expect that the advice he has for you will also translate nicely to other negotiations that do not involve procurement. (My first negotiating lesson was while having dinner with a friend and his friend, a labor negotiator. Within 10 minutes I had used his advice to secure a free bottle of port from the waiter. I was thirlled, and equally rewarding, the waiter was thirlled to provide it.) 

When procurement first started getting involved in hiring marketing firms (about 12 years ago now) it was a disaster. But from day one they’ve been working on getting better at it, whereas we’re still complaining. It’s time to devote some resources to better understanding how we can work with these people. They’re not going away. 

I hope you can join us Thursday. You can purchase the webcast for $99 per station (as many people as you like), or you can participate in one year’s worth of webcasts for free with a $395 membership to the WWP Online Learning Center. 

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Tagsprocurement (1) john gleason (1) webcast (3) negotiating (3) 

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David Airey said:

It wasn't until about three or four years ago, thanks to a TV show here in the UK, that I started negotiating for practically all of my substantial purchases. Now I'm surprised when other shoppers don't even bother asking for a reduction.

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