Most professionals in procurement would love to increase stakeholder collaboration and engagement but aren’t sure how to do it.
The issues that have been shared with me are consistent regardless of the industry or size of the organization.
See if these complaints and/or issues sound familiar.
- “They don’t respond quickly to our requests even in emergency buying situations.”
- “The RFP process is time-consuming for repeatable purchases. We have to perform the same steps and provide the same information every time.”
- “Our requirements can be very technical, and I wonder if they really understand how to find the best available suppliers.”
- “Finding information on existing contracts is an arduous process even if I just want to know the expiration date and current terms.”
- “I would be much more inclined to use the system if the process for initiating a request was automated.”
Unfortunately, these statements aren’t specific enough to help you drive real change.
I love to talk but have found that the less I talk in meetings with stakeholders the more I learn.
Years ago, one of the first lessons I learned in sales was to use my ears twice as much as my mouth.
I realized that the only effective way to do that was to ask more questions so the stakeholder would do most of the talking.
It is magical to use this approach.
If you were at a Super Bowl party, you had plenty of time to chat because the game was pretty boring.
Who was the most fascinating person you spoke with?
Probably the person who got you talking and was sincere in asking you questions to keep you talking.
The questions I will offer for you to try may require you to act a bit.
Especially if you believe that you know the answer before you ask the question.
Most people love to show off their knowledge so let them, and they will like and respect you much more than they do now.
Be curious and focused. Uncover the facts and the emotional stress they are feeling.
Ask better questions and it isn’t that hard. Better questions will help you uncover the facts. You will also learn the emotional response behind the issue and that is the real key.
Here are a few of the questions that help me gain the respect of people I am speaking with:
- “That sounds like it was frustrating, can you give me some additional details so I can be sure I fully understand what happened?”
- “I think I get it, but can you go through it one more time, so I feel sure?”
- “Can you provide some additional details about that?”
- “I would like to share what I heard you say, and you can let me know if I have it all. Does that sound like a reasonable approach?”
- “If you were in my position, what would you focus on changing?”
Once you hear their initial answer, it is critical to ask a follow up question to make certain that you get to the real issues.
By digging deeper, you may learn that their boss was very unhappy or that a customer threatened to take their business to a competitor.
I believe that you learn more from problems then you do from smooth sailing.
You may feel that by asking questions like these, you are admitting that you don’t fully understand and may not seem that smart.
My experience is that you will be highly respected by your stakeholders because they will know that you want to get it right. They will think more of you not less.
I will also share one other secret to success in asking questions.
Get in the habit of asking “Is that ok?” or “Are you ok with that approach?”
People want to know that they are part of the decision process and asking if they are ok will let them know that.
I also love asking “Does that sound reasonable?”
Very few people will be able to say that something isn’t reasonable. If it clearly is unreasonable finding that out will help you get on the right path before it becomes a disaster.
If you are ready to drive your competitive advantage, please request a 30-minute discovery call with me using the link below.
If I can’t help you, I will let you know that, and we can part friends. If we both agree that we should continue the conversation we can set up the next logical step.
Ask better questions, make changes and 2019 will be your best year ever.
Action Step: If you are uncertain where to start the process of change, a procurement professional like myself can provide guidance and expertise to help your organization achieve the results you want.
If you want to go explore this topic in greater detail, please contact me. I invite you to request 30-minute discovery conversation. In my experience the next step will be apparent at the end of the call. I never assume that what I have to offer will be right for everyone, so don’t expect a sales pitch. You can reach me at 973-936-9672.
If you would like to know more ways to reduce costs without changing the way you do business, simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact information and the best time to reach you.
You Won’t Drift to Success©
Commit to taking the next step.
Until Next Time, I Wish You Great Success in Your Business and in Your Life