Last week, courtesy of Paul Martyn, BravoSolution’s new VP of Marketing in North American, I came across a column over on Supply Chain Brain. The article explores the decades-old subject of treating procurement and category management like a sales and account-management function. It quotes my long-time industry colleague and friend, Jim Wetekamp (who still owes me a case of Yuengling for some favor I did him years back). Jim says that “sourcing efforts [need to] be designed much like a traditional sale process, with commodity managers given performance targets along with the measurements needed to ensure they’re being met.”
After reading this, I thought I’d challenge Jim — who probably knows more about sourcing and procurement products and processes than just about anyone I’ve ever met — to go a bit deeper on the subject. I wrote to the Upstate New Yorker: “Jim, could you fill my RSS shot glass with a few more specific tipples on what we should and should not take away from sales? What are truly sales best practices as applied to vendor management and strategic sourcing?” Instead of a few sentences, he practically gave me a book. Or at least a chapter. Still, it’s great stuff, and even though there are quite a lot of ideas here for a single morning read, I thought I’d print it in a single post all the same. Without further adieu, here are Jim’s more detailed thoughts on the subject. It’s worth reserving at least a few minutes to read what he has to say on the subject. Trust me.
“Although I can profess to be a supreme expert in neither sales management nor procurement category management, I do have some observations, having worked among a few groups that I believe are in fact top of the line in these areas.
“It is interesting how many parallels there are in what can be considered best practices in managing a sales process and procurement-sourcing process. While applying all of these sales-management best practices to your procurement process may not make complete sense given the specifics of your team, business, or markets, I have worked with a good number of procurement organizations that are applying these practices and making them work.
“The easiest place to begin is with some generalizations about what makes a successful sales organization. What is it that they do well?
“Effective sales-management organizations have a well-defined sales strategy. Sales strategies that I have seen generally involve a method for prospect selection, defining the winning sales process and laying out a plan based upon measurable goals for the organization. The most tangible manifestation of this is the sales forecast. The sales forecast provides a roadmap of how goals will be met, key categories that will drive those achievements, and other assumptions revolving around sales market transitions, organizational capabilities, and production feasibility. Sales organizations need this plan in order to drive proactive rather than reactive actions, as a framework for judging and rewarding performance, defining an expectation of delivery from the sales team, and aligning the organization from top to bottom…