To Get Better Stakeholder Engagement, Think Like a Bartender

It’s no secret that, to be successful in procurement, you need to effectively engage internal business stakeholders. They are typically the ones who own the budget, spend the money, and are at the end of the day your real customer.

Monday, March 21, 2016
BY: Betina Nygaard, CEO Scanmarket A/S

There is also no shortage of advice on how to best work with stakeholders:

However, it’s difficult to identify which pieces of advice to follow and, more importantly, how to incorporate it into your daily routine. It’s not feasible to sit down with someone in IT, Marketing or Logistics and say “Please wait a moment while I check this CIPS article”. Instead, you need some simple guidelines that you can keep in mind and put into practice.

At Scanmarket, it’s part of our core mission to make your life as a strategic sourcing professional as simple as possible. In keeping with that approach, we suggest the following:

To get better stakeholder engagement, think like a bartender.

While this may seem out of place when talking about a subject as “serious” as Procurement and Strategic Sourcing, consider what makes a good bartender:

  1. Listen – It’s a well-worn stereotype that bartenders are good listeners and for good reason. Patrons have needs beyond simple hydration and a personal connection goes a long way. Otherwise, we’d just replace all bartenders with vending machines. Same thing goes with procurement stakeholders. Make sure you’re listening to them and their needs rather than just trying to get what’s on your list and finish the meeting
  2. Don’t make them wait – Goes without saying that making a customer in a bar wait for their drinks is going to adversely impact business. The customer might just give up and leave. Your business stakeholders are your customers. Keep in mind the old retail saying “If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will”. When they need your help, do everything possible to under-promise and over-deliver
  3. Make connections – A bartender takes a broad view, seeing the whole bar. He/she can see who should be together and who might be trouble. Take the same approach with your stakeholders, identifying opportunities for different groups to leverage their spend and where you will want to deal with a group on its own
  4. Stay on top of trends – While as a procurement professional you might not be following the trends in artisanal whiskey of fruit infusions, you will want to be on top of the latest in technology, networks and supply markets in order to advise your customers of new opportunities and approaches they may not have previously considered

So the next time you’re walking into a meeting with a reluctant stakeholder, remember last Saturday night and act like your local bartender. 

Easy. Proven. Results.