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September 08, 2021 • News

How to win the pitch with the procurement team

Understand what your clients procurement need, to benefit of winning chances​​​​​​​. 

The common assumption in both business and personal cultures is that ‘opposites attract’. They complement each other and create a harmonious relationship. Each department has different roles and ways of thinking in business, but they must work together to form one unified goal.

But how does your creative agency fit into this unified goal when your potential client's procurement team is the one’s cross-examining your value?Are there ways to win that pitch through convincing a team, notorious for cost-based thinking, of your worth to the business? We spoke with a Procurement Manager for Unilever Singapore, to understand how creative teams and procurement can work better together.

Procurement has one primary role in a business and that is dealing with costs. We know that this role can appear contradictory to your agency’s goals, as procurement are notorious for low-risk, cost-based reasoning. This way of thinking runs in opposition to your philosophy of showing value through the results of your creative freedom.


Learning to be more ‘blue.’ 

According to his research in The People Code, Dr Taylor Hartman, author and leading psychologist, suggests different personalities are divided into four colour categories. While it’s best not to stereotype, it may help agencies understand the procurement team’s needs as a logical, perfectionist, mistrustful of risk, and a little worry-prone. These attributes put them in Hartman’s ‘blue’ personality profile. In contrast, many agency creatives may find they might fit the description of a ‘yellow’ profile: free-spirited, progressive, and innovative. 

It is important to understand that winning over procurement doesn’t mean having to eradicate creative ideas or dilute ambitious concepts. It’s about meeting in the middle and communicating your agency worth.

What’s crucial is understanding that your overall priorities may differ, but the end goal does not. Compromising to reconcile priorities can help create a harmonious relationship. Reaching the end goal, solving procurements concerns, and your agency showing provable value is critical.

However, both parties risk muddying the waters by assuming what proving value and defining value means to both teams.

What does value mean to a procurement department?

When a business asks a procurement department to tender for a project, it means seeking ideas and solving a problem whilst ensuring costs don’t increase faster than incoming revenue. When this happens, many agencies assume it’s all about price, when in fact, this is only a tiny part of their reasoning.  

Quality, delivery, and innovation are more valuable than getting a good deal for the business. Suppose, for example, a procurement department tightens their demands and dictates what they want from a creative agency. In that case, innovation could be killed in one campaign, ultimately damaging the impact of any creative work they undertake. Procurement evaluates value holistically, assessing potential suppliers according to five keys factors called TQRDC. 

Technology, Quality, Responsiveness, Delivery, and Cost. 

Listed in what the frameworks classes as being in priority order highlights once again that cost isn’t always top of the list for procurement teams.

Despite seeming a little intimidating, knowing these five factors opens an excellent opportunity for the creative agency. In addition to highlighting your agency’s innovative solutions and ideas, the scope of these factors means you can outline how your agency might help solve procurements' strategic objectives, now and for the longer term. This process essentially means you have a much better chance of helping the client solve future issues whilst not focusing solely on cost.

The importance of transparency

Another factor that ties in with a procurement team’s needs is transparency. Think of the process as less of a high-stakes poker game and more no-holds-barred, honest cards on the table. Being honest about the complexity of a problem and how to solve it means more to procurement than a ‘race to the bottom’ bidding war.

Planning techniques that seem alien to you can help you understand procurements' needs and ultimately help the business find the best creative pitch to solve their problem, not just for now, but for every pitch involving procurement in the future.

Better Together

Whilst it’s easy to fall back on what you know as an agency; procurement’s involvement can bring an ‘end goal thinking’ to the table. This new way of target setting allows agencies to better understand the business goals of the potential client, re-assess their pitching strategy, and succeed with procurement in a way that doesn’t jeopardise creativity.

Procurement needs creative agencies' insight too. Having been a significant shift in supplier relationships and marketing dynamics, procurement teams need agencies more than ever to ensure they’re aware of what’s going on in the market.

As we move forward, all companies are looking for opportunities where they can create a competitive advantage for themselves to counteract the downturn brought on by the pandemic, and creative agencies and procurement teams are no different. Coming together to form a partnership and produce joint innovation will ensure both teams can adapt to this new working world stronger, together.