Agency Forum: Seven top tips for dealing with procurement

A panel of corporate and agency experts at C&IT's Agency Forum gave advice on the best way to get purchasing and procurement onside.

The procurement panel at C&IT's Agency Forum
The procurement panel at C&IT's Agency Forum

The 'ask the procurement panel' consisted of Jaguar Land Rover’s senior buyer – events, Nathalie Maddocks, client and procurement director at WRG Live, Andrew Gilkerson, and Tina Fegent, owner of Tina Fegent Marketing Procurement and Consulting.

The panel’s top tips were:

1.    Build a partnership

Maddocks said: "We have a long-term approach, so our agencies are more like partners. If we can work together and be transparent with each other, we can drive costs down together, rather than procurement being forced to squeeze the agency on its rates because we don’t have that strong relationship.

2.    Involve procurement from the outset

"For me, the best scenario is for procurement to be involved strategically from the beginning, but to do that they need a great relationship with their stakeholders," said Gilkerson. "Otherwise they’re brought in too late at the negotiation and pricing stage, when ideas have already been formed."

3.    Have someone on your team that focuses on procurement

"How many agencies have got one person who focuses on procurement?" asked Fegent. "Often we have to deal with lots of people across the company at different moments, which just gets complicated."

4.    Tell us about your savings

Maddocks said: "Remember, we want to know what savings you can make,. Blow your own trumpet and let us know. We need to show that costs are being procured and managed in a way we would do ourselves - everyone wants a good deal."

5.    Tell your client you want purchasing involved

"If we get that early on we can mitigate risks with you and give you more scope to be creative," added Maddocks. "Breakdowns in internal communications can stop that. It’s often an internal issue that gets put onto the agency, so as an agency you should suggest to them that you get purchasing involved."

6.    Remember procurement when pitching

Gilkerson said: "The winning formula when pitching includes an understanding of things from procurement’s perspective. There is going to be someone from procurement in the room, so make sure you speak to and mention saving and mitigating risks - the things that they want to hear about.

 7.    Don’t get defensive

"When you’re pitching, don’t take questions we give you as negative and be defensive in your responses - we have to challenge you," said Maddocks. "Humour us and be responsive, not reactive, or we will turn off right away."


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