It may seem like an unnatural fit, but your supply chain and procurement department can have as much of an impact on your business growth as the superstar salesperson who is driven by results.
In the last few years, we’ve seen client buying processes shift distinctly from solely commercial drivers like price to a more holistic view of your tender bids. Especially in larger projects, particularly in public sector contracts, there is more of a push toward rewarding contracts based on other values that we’ve detailed in our Social Value Policy Playbook.
So how does the interplay between sales and supply chain work to grow your business?
A Productive Partnership…
We see sales as the voice of the customer and supply chain teams tangibly deliver to the seemingly ever-shifting needs of the market. Business development makes a case based on client requests and the operations and supply chain function then become the natural problem solvers in this equation.
This summary makes it sound almost frictionless, but we know only too well the delicate interplay between departments and individuals.
From a sales point of view, it’s easy to be led by the customer and the potential offer of increased business. It’s often seductive to think of all the promise of extra revenue and contracts, or the act of doing favours or “just one more little thing” for the client will help hit targets and get that all-important bonus.
From a supply chain perspective, it’s easier to be conservative rather than progressive and manage a smaller set of suppliers more tightly than continually flex to assess the market based on whims and client-potential promises.
It’s a perpetual fight between simplicity, convenience, challenge and growth that, if balanced with rational, evidence-based data and open transparent communications should not turn into a fight at all.
Let’s just all assume the customer always wants to pay less. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, there is a multitude of other conversations between sales and supply chains that are driving the agenda in 2022 beyond the race to the bottom.
Some recent trends we’ve spotted amongst our clients is that the role of the supply chain in the sales process has changed across 3 main dimensions – and consideration of all three is absolutely essential to winning work in today’s competitive landscape.
Professionalism = People + Planet (Not just profit)
Professionalism has always been a key factor in winning business.
In 2022, professional competence goes far beyond an on-time submission, a perfectly written and formatted tender response – it encompasses a wider range of elements that your potential client really cares about. Winning tenders transcends pure profit and incorporates people and the planet too.
This is where your supply chain manager (and their software platform) is your business development secret weapon.
Using Social Value Policy as a framework, potential clients now want to see how your business performs in terms of:
- Carbon Reduction
- Equal Opportunities
- Economic Inequality
And perhaps much more…
So to be successful, business development teams (and the bid writing function) have to have
- Company and supplier data at their fingertips
- Details on company policy
- accreditation and certifications
Across all of these different consideration factors – and this can be quite a challenge!
To unleash the power of the supply chain secret weapon, this all relies on data.
- Is the right data (metrics) being collected?
- Is it consistent, accurate, relevant and complete?
- Is it easily accessible across the team in a timely manner?
Producing tender responses can be a laborious task at the best of times, so a supply chain management platform like SourceDogg helps alleviate the stress and time pressure by storing all of your data in one place. Simple to access and share across teams and divisions. It’s also easy to analyse and evaluate – or spot holes in your data to reach back out to the supplier base to fill in the gaps in a timely and self-service manner.
Prove it or Lose it
It’s becoming increasingly important that companies really do practice what they preach and have transparency to back up the claims they make – especially on the factors mentioned above.
It’s important you genuinely do practice what you preach and that’s where the supply chain function and their software platform is your secret weapon to winning bids.
For big contracts, your clients will be particularly keen to know they’re in safe hands, so you must include as much detail as possible. The more detailed and accurate you can be, the better your chances of securing the contract.
If you’ve got detailed, evidence-based, data-driven backup for your claims and credentials then it will deliver a significant competitive advantage. If your sales team have details to hand, clear data insight, perhaps provided in dashboards and other visually impressive resources then your bid submission is likely to stand out.
Looking for a Long-Term Relationship…
As clients’ needs change and more emphasis is placed on non-commercial factors such as sustainability and green credentials like carbon reduction or neutrality your business needs to build a supply chain to meet those needs.
It’s unlikely that you’ll just stumble upon (or even strategically source) new suppliers capable of hitting those KPI’s instantly and unlocking growth immediately – so using a continuous improvement approach to supplier relationship management may well help you position your business for future growth.
This approach is successful for two major reasons:
Clarity & Alignment
If your supply base knows you’re trying to achieve certain goals across a multiplicity of client buying criteria, then you’ll have clarity and transparency on your mutual goals.
After all, your success is their success.
Setting clear expectations, underpinned by the well-defined criteria that will result in potentially winning more work means your relationship is built on strong foundations.
Your supply chain team is your sales secret weapon here and by using an SRM software platform like SourceDogg, you can easily connect and communicate your goals, leading to greater engagement and mutual direction.
Collaboration for Development
Successful supply chains are built on long-term collaboration and continual improvement, not punitive punishment and small short-term battles. So once you’ve set and communicated expectations your supply chain team can give clear objectives and direction that will help you lead the pack competitively in tenders.
So whether it’s goals on social value policy or ESG, SRM software helps your suppliers focus on what’s important to your business, align your goals and drive mutual commitment.
Your sales team will probably want everything yesterday for immediate success, and this isn’t always possible, but with the continuous improvement process you can set clear targets and encourage an open dialogue around performance indicators that might win that upcoming project in 6 months.
Furthermore, your supply chain can benchmark, measure and reward ongoing success and improvement against key metrics – meaning that they can see a tangible benefit from helping you win work. Those tricky end-client demands were not just a strategy to squeeze out every last pound of margin in the supply chain or add to your already colossal bid-writing workload.
Instead, the SRM software helps you win more work by improving the quality of the suppliers you already have today to meet the needs of tomorrow.
We’re seeing more and more business development teams realising the power of our supply chain software and we’d love to show you and your secret weapon colleagues in operations and procurement the impact of implementing SourceDogg.
Let us take you through a personalised demo today…