Just as we thought we’d negotiated a safe landing back to earth for our talent-challenged sourcing advisors, that we discover another mismatch between perception and reality – they just love service providers.
Yes indeed – probably the only time anyone has ever bothered to ask a seriously large number of enterprise service buyers (168) and advisors (154), during our recent industry study with KPMG, what they really think of service providers, yielded quite an alarming response:
Are some advisors simply out of touch, or are too many buyers suffering from stagnating relationships?
One of the quirks of the services industry that has long-bothered me – and many others – are the cosy relationships some advisors clearly enjoy with some service providers.
Turn up at many of the service provider-hosted industry “analyst” events these days, and there is usually an assortment of advisors added to the occasion to partake in the PowerPoint orgy, the mutual backslapping, the “I’ll share with you my pipeline if you share yours” side-bar discussions, the “how dare that analyst rank you so low in their last report – he clearly knows nothing” grumble…
However which way we look at this, one thing is clear – most buyers (49%) which have to live with their service providers everyday, predominantly view them as efficient partners to drive out cost and improve operations, while a third actually see them as having the ability to be real transformational partners (34%). Which isn’t too bad as only 17% view them as body shops… but clearly room for improvement, in terms of more buyers enjoying higher value relationships.
So why, pray tell, do a whopping 54% of advisors think service providers are simply just wonderful? Do they only talk to the happy 34% of clients? Do they talk to more than a couple of clients a year? Or are they so submerged in the schmooze-fest of service providers showering them with booze, Disney World, the same old client still droning on about his incredible 2007 process transformation, and hoards of white papers and books that have really cool titles, but quickly land in the trash can, that they’ve lost all touch with reality?
Bottom-Line: Too many advisors are simply not being exposed to buyers’ real painpoints
Firstly, I know many brilliant advisors – and often call on them to chat about the industry, share views and ideas etc. We even invite a selection of clever ones to our Blueprint sessions to add to the debate. But this gap between perception and reality is clearly too great – I could expect maybe a 10% delta between buyer and advisor, as many relationships struggle because of the buyer’s failure to entrust their provider with higher level work, but a delta of 20% is simply too great.
Quite simply, buyers are getting smarter and those with real experience want direct, honest conversation when they spend a lot of money on consulting services. With so many enterprises, today, struggling with talent shortages and rising complexity of their needs, we need advisors steeped in reality who can give them a nice big dose of reality, who truly understand what life is like a few years into an outsourcing engagement. This is why many advisors need to be better informed – they need access to governance data, unvarnished research. They need to listen to many, many clients talk about their experiences and start asking the tough questions of their service provider buddies at their champagne receptions. The backslapping needs to tone down and the real conversation needs to begin in ernest.
(Cross-posted @ Horses for Sources)