For those readers who are unaware, procurement in the marketing industry is a services profiling and selection process that many larger organisations must go through when considering new suppliers. There are professionals out there whose job it is to develop processes that create the greatest chance of selecting the most suitable supplier for the company.
In my experience, it will usually consist of:
- An initial questionnaire, which attempts to immediately identify tell-tale signs of the qualities the company is looking for in an agency/supplier. If you get through this stage,
- The pitch: a face-to-face response to a brief, usually by way of presentation. And then,
- Negotiations, if you’re lucky enough to get this far.
The difficult thing for suppliers throughout this process (speaking from personal experience once again) is that it is usually very closed-off. By this I mean that you aren’t really allowed any direct communication with anyone involved on the company side. Those in charge of procurement have to be very careful to make sure that this process is as fair as possible, and spending time speaking to a particular supplier could be perceived as giving them an unfair advantage. Needless to say, in some instances when procurement teams are looking at upwards of 40 suppliers for a single service, it would also be very difficult to spend time speaking to everyone. There are usually Q&A windows throughout the earlier stages in which you can submit written questions, but I believe that written questions and responses can sometimes be misunderstood (as I have found through email on a number of occasions).
Taking all this into consideration, I thought it would be useful if we could make contact with some people in the procurement industry and, bearing in mind that these conversations happened outside any procurement process, I asked them to contribute some advice. I believe that these people, having to deal with supplier selection on a day-to-day basis, would have the most experience in appointing suppliers, and therefore be able to contribute advice that would help me/us be successful in any selection process, whatever the size of the organisation.
I asked a number of people the same question: “What is the one piece of advice you would give to an individual/agency to give them the best chance of success when you are looking at them as a potential supplier?”
I intentionally left this as open as possible because I wanted people to respond with what they believed to be the most important aspects of the selection process.
To illustrate how closed procurement can be, I spoke to roughly 16 organisations, the majority of which were either unwilling or unable to respond. But three individuals have kindly submitted their responses.