You’ve received that request from someone inside your organization. They are ready to buy something, and need to work with procurement through that process. In some cases, they may believe they have an idea which provider they want. In other cases, it is the beginning of a journey to discover the best fit. As a procurement professional, how can you approach and add value to this process? How can you be a strong partner within your organization? What should you consider for this discovery process? We partnered with Phil Ideson from Art of Procurement to explore these topics. Phil helped us explore how you can design your procurement discovery call process.
Why is it so important to think of this discovery call as a process, instead of simply a meeting on the calendar?
The best discovery calls are actually a discovery process. To do this well, it requires planning, the call itself, and then follow-up. Why is it so important to treat the discovery call as a process? Your first impression with a stakeholder sets the tone of the relationship. Managing this well helps inspire trust. Mismanage this, and it can end the relationship right there.
How can a procurement professional prepare for a discovery call?
1. Consider how you can build rapport with the stakeholder. Ask what commonalities you have with this person? Have you worked on projects together before? Do you have any kind of shared history, educational background, or shared interests?
2. Be prepared with information that you can share. You could include facts about changes in the supply market for the category of spend or specific product or service in question. Or the past history of a particularly important supplier to them. With your procurement hat on, this is knowing your category. Any information that you can share that positions you as an expert is going to give the stakeholder confidence that you have value to them.
3. Schedule the discovery call. Set a short time up on your calendar for immediately after the call. This will provide time to finish writing up any notes.
What tips can you share to run an effective procurement discovery call?
1. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to continue building rapport. Work on creating a connection with your stakeholder. Practice active listening to really hear what they are saying.
2. Shift into questions that help identify pain points, goals, and objectives. Make this a conversation, not a bullet point list of items to cover. Dig deeper into the challenges. Clarify what happens if the pain is not solved or the challenge is not taken advantage of. This is the part of the conversation where you can understand how important it is to take action. Once this is clearly understood, it is time to shift gears.
3. Start a discussion about how the future state could look. Here you want to paint a vision of the future. Base this on the knowledge you gathered before the call. Factor in the information communicated by the stakeholder. You can share market dynamics such as pricing trends. Or talk about new approaches and technologies that achieve similar, or better, outcomes. It needs to be insightful enough that your stakeholder recognizes that you can be a key part of the solution to their challenge.
4. Wrap up the meeting by agreeing on the next steps. Re-state the pertinent points made throughout the discussion and discuss how to proceed. Your goal is to get an agreement on the next step.
Tell us more about where the follow-up process usually falls apart for most people?
Memorializing the discussion is one of the hardest steps. We can lose focus or struggle to have bandwidth for this activity. Make sure you have dedicated the time to quickly getting the after-call summary of the discussion out.
I can’t stress enough how important this is. Losing sight of this can kill your momentum. You have painstakingly built rapport with your stakeholder, don't lose it now. Quickly put in writing:
1. The key points of discovery.
2. The information you shared to paint the vision for the future
3. The next steps
Doing this ensures that everything is captured, and demonstrates your understanding of their pain point(s). It also provides an opportunity to get a further agreement on what was discussed. When you send this, always ask the other stakeholder if they agree or have anything to add. Once those next steps are confirmed, you will have the information needed to proceed.