Required reading for any negotiation class usually includes Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In. In this slim yet impactful book by Roger Fisher, the bottom line is simple. Relationships matter. Fisher writes, “The ongoing relationship is far more important than the outcome of any particular negotiation.” In any procurement or strategic sourcing role, those are words to take to heart.
“Like it or not, you are a negotiator.” – Roger Fisher
We’re all negotiators on some level. Every conversation can be perceived as a negotiation. We employ positional bargaining to reach agreements; with our kids and spouses, on the phone with customer service reps, with our co-workers. In these interactions, “Each side takes a position, argues for it, and makes concessions to reach a compromise,” Fisher writes.
The goal is for each side to leave the table feeling like they were heard, respected, and not raked over the coals. This isn’t a zero-sum game where one side must “lose” for the other side to “win.” Both parties must view the end result positively, so the relationship can thrive.
When embarking on a new procurement initiative, getting genuine stakeholder buy-in from the get-go is key to a healthy relationship and project success.
Tips to Create Stakeholder Buy-In for Procurement Initiatives
- Stakeholders = clients. The most important thing you can do is to change your perspective. In strategic sourcing, your stakeholders are your internal clients. And they are not just in the C-Suite. They are lab managers, scientists, accounting, and IT. Treat them as you would a customer.
- Draft your dream team. Sustainable benefits are not possible unless you involve the right people on your project team. The first folks to recruit should be the ones most affected by the project outcome, such as the scientists and lab managers. Then, you add on multiple layers and functions.
- Create a team charter. Is it a little corny? Yes. Is it essential? Yes. Collaboratively devise team goals, objectives, scope, structure, roles, responsibilities, deliverables, approach, timing, and key success factors. Then, refer back to it often.
- Don’t skimp on data collection. Data collection isn’t just about spend. Interview as many people as possible about current processes and procedures. What are their requirements? What are their pain points? How can you make their lives easier while also saving the company time and money?
- Seek a quick win to boost morale. Generate enthusiasm and support for the initiative by identifying and pursuing an opportunity that is easy to implement, visible, offers savings, and is measurable. A quick win will boost the team’s credibility within the organization and make roll-out with other groups easier.
- Say it with me, “It’s not just about savings.” It is not just about the Profit & Loss (P&L) statement. Your message to stakeholders is that you want to save them time (and, yes, money). You want to make it easier and quicker to order supplies. You want to reduce supply chain risk. You want to build an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship between the lab and sourcing / procurement.
The more sourcing / procurement embraces the role of trusted advisor as opposed to that of the “hammer,” the more invested stakeholders will be and the better the outcome.