Who Has Influence And How Do You Get More Of It?

Influence comes in all forms and from a variety of different sources. But, in the digital age, is the nature of influence changing? And how might it change further over the next few years?


What does influence look like in your life? Who are the main influencers? Depending on a great number of factors, including your values, norms, gender, race and age (amongst many others), the people who have influenced your life to this point represent a very diverse cross-section of society. And it’s likely that these influencers will change over the course of your lifetime.

How people find and consume information has changed drastically in the past decade. The relentless growth of social media and digital channels for data, news and opinion has provided new sources for people to use. This has, in turn, led to the growth of digital and social media ‘influencers’, all of whom offer something slightly different and command a different audience.

In this series of articles, I’ll look at what influence is and who the influencers are in the digital age and why this might seem paradoxical. I’ll cover the notion that the power of influencers may be on the wane, before concluding by looking at the divergence of this versus procurement influencers, and how procurement can leverage this thinking to grow influence in the right places.

The Context

There has been plenty written about influence in the past (including articles here on Procurious), including looking at how individuals can measure and increase their own. To provide a bit of context for the whole series, first we need to provide some definitions on our key terms.

The Cambridge English dictionary defines ‘influence’ as, “the power to have an effect on people or things, or a person or thing that is able to do this”. When we consider influence in our lives, what does this look like? It could be things we read, see and engage with on a day-to-day basis, or something that resonates with us.

Influences are usually delivered or underpinned by an ‘influencer’ – “someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave”. In our lives, this could be anyone from parents, family and friends, to colleagues, peers, celebrities and/or global figures.

It could be argued that this definition is more traditional, yet not necessarily outdated. In the digital age, the term might be better defined as, “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media”. We might not all be consuming a product, but the influence is there nonetheless.

What does this mean for individual people and how they are influenced? Is it changing the nature of influence? This is still up for debate.

The Changing Influence Environment

Consider the public’s consumption of information 50 years ago. This is long before the advent of the Internet and 24/7 connectivity and long before social media was even first considered. There was the print media and the original three channels on the TV. What seemed like a broad spectrum at the time now looks very narrow.

Influencers at this time would probably have been local or national, rather than international. The range would have been limited to those people who were well-known, who appeared on TV or radio frequently and were considered as experts in their fields. We’re talking here about politicians, celebrities, businesspeople or personalities.

In 2020, we have a world of information at our fingertips all hours of the day and night. We can connect with individuals in all walks of life, discussing and sharing about more topics than we could think of. These new influencers are freely accessed on social media and can create a large-scale, global audience fairly easily (comparatively to 50 years ago anyway).

News, Media & Video

The changing nature of how we consume media and content has enabled more individuals to gain traction in the social media environment. YouTube is a massively popular platform for the new generation of influencers. Ad sales alone in 2019 generated $4.7 billion (£3.62 billion) for parent company Alphabet.

It’s easy to see why when research shows that two-thirds of Millennials prefer YouTube to traditional television, and that there are over 1 billion hours of online content viewed daily. For an individual to get started, all they need is a computer, a social media account, a camera and/or microphone, some basic editing skills and a ‘hook’.

It better be a good ‘hook’ though – 20 per cent of social media users admit that they will stop watching a video if it hasn’t hooked them in the first 10 seconds.

For influencers this means that they need to know how to attract and retain their audience, but also produce quality content. For some, it will be enough to share their knowledge. Others will only gain a small audience, or a larger audience over a longer period. But a minority will gain thousands of followers quickly, and become recognisable ‘influencers’.

Social Media – Gen Z’s World?

Which brings us to our individuals and influencers-to-be. On social media, they are categorised in three groups:

  1. Micro influencers – offer authority on a specific and narrow niche, generally with smaller audiences (10,000 people or less). They can be a useful group for marketers as they are more affordable and have higher levels of engagement.
  2. Power middle influencers – have audiences ranging for 10,000-250,000 people and likely already have experience working with brands.
  3. Macro influencers – these are the digital celebrities on social media, with an audience of over 250,000 people. Their potential reach is huge, but they are more costly for marketers and have a lower engagement rate.

If celebrities make up a large percentage of the ‘macro’ influencers, then we can consider the ‘power middle’ as the new generation of influencers. And this new generation is largely made up of younger Millennials or Gen Z (those born since 1997). In 2018, the top 10 highest earners on YouTube were all, apart from 2, under 30.

The highest earner was Ryan Kaji, who stars in the ‘Ryan’s World’ channel, with earnings of $22 million. He’s 8 years old. It’s no wonder that children and teenagers galore think that being an influencer is a career route they want to take.

Does this then give credence to the idea that the world of social media and digital influence belongs to Gen Z? It’s an interesting question that provides us with an interesting paradox.

A Matter of Gravitas? Or Consumption?

If influence in the past has been related to experience, knowledge, gravitas and global renown (not necessarily traits only found in older people), then how is there more prominence for younger influencers despite having (theoretically) less to offer?

Consider this list of the “must know” influencers in 2019. You could argue that older generations are being squeezed out of influencer circles in the digital world. This could easily be linked to how younger generations consume their media and content. You could also argue that, in the digital world, there is room for all to exist. An older generation of influencers could attract an older generation of followers, assuming these followers consume their content digitally.

However, this generation may already have missed the boat as social media influence shifts again. As the digital world continues to evolve, so does the nature of influence and its perception. So, is this generation too late? Or could they stand to benefit just as much as the game changes again? We’ll cover this and more in the next article in this series.

To hear from top procurement influencers, be sure to join up and be part of the Procurious network. With 37,000 members, this is the place to gain knowledge and insights into the latest procurement and supply chain matters.

How Did We Go? Procurement’s Performance During An Unprecedented Crisis

The bushfire crisis has devastated Australia. But how has it affected our jobs and our organisations? We spoke to members of The Faculty’s Roundtable program to see what the impact had been and how they’d managed.


Whenever the need arises, procurement steps up. And during the recent unprecedented Australian bushfires, the situation was no different: procurement professionals from across the country, in roles from analyst to CPO, took the crisis under their wing and worked hard to manage huge and urgent projects, doing everything from sourcing safety masks to visiting impacted sites and absorbing, first-hand, the horror of the situation. 

The fact that the bushfire crisis is a procurement-related issue is of little doubt, so much so that it’s made international headlines. In a case that is yet unresolved, Australian charity The Red Cross has been criticised for not distributing funds quickly enough to those in need. Yet The Red Cross has fiercely defended their work, saying, in a statement we can all relate to: ‘We must manage the money so we aren’t scammed…we need to protect funds.’  In times of crisis, supplier vetting and proper process is just as, if not more important, according to The Red Cross and other charities, especially given the public pressure to ‘spend with them,’ an initiative that encourages all Australian people and companies to spend as much as possible with bushfire-affected communities.

The Red Cross might have made the headlines, but how are we, as procurement professionals for some of the world’s leading companies, doing behind the scenes? We surveyed procurement leaders from members of The Faculty’s Roundtable Program to see what impact they’d made, how they coped and what they were proud of in this time of crisis. Here’s what they told us. 

The impact of the bushfires 

There’s no doubt that the bushfires have had an impact on procurement, and this impact has been felt most for our members in the insurance, banking and service/utilities industry. 

For one member in insurance, the procurement team has been pivotal in increasing resourcing to areas that are making claims. Yet with this, they’ve treaded carefully with suppliers: 

‘[In times of crisis, like these, my team have ensured] suppliers in fire regions are being treated sensitively.’ 

For another member in utilities, the crisis has forced them to consider a few of their policies and plans: 

‘The bushfires have really made us stress test our Disaster Recovery plan and rethink our emergency sourcing process.’ 

‘They have highlighted the critical importance of having a solid, reliable and trusted supplier partner to meet all of our urgent demands.’ 

Supplier selection 

On the issue of suppliers, many procurement teams have had to adjust their approach. One, in the services industry, has made a concerted effort to follow the ‘spend with them’ mantra: 

‘[For this crisis in particular], there is a strong imperative to use local suppliers and providers, including trades, cleaners etc. This is to ensure that any investment in rebuilding these communities comes from the communities themselves.’ 

For others, like this member in the banking industry, it’s been more about alignment, agility and innovation: 

‘Right now, we’re focusing on who can mobilise fast and solve issues.’ 

‘In a crisis, it’s not so much about being perfect as it is about getting in and trying something to see if it will work. Organisations that can provide solutions by quickly connecting people and resources are more valuable than providers who take time to line everything up and have the ideal outcome in a bureaucratic fashion.’ 

For other members, it was simply an issue of availability. Two members, both in the utilities industry, simply said that ‘resource availability’ was their focus when selecting suppliers. 

Positive impact 

While the bushfire crisis – and, indeed, any crisis – is a busy time for procurement, a number of our members have achieved great things. For a member in the services industry, they were able to make a substantial frontline impact: 

‘[Our team has helped] deliver a number of significant outcomes, including bussing people from fire-hit areas to evacuation centres and providing them with catering and other services when they arrived.’ 

Another member, from the insurance industry, has gone the extra mile to look after their suppliers: 

‘We reduced supplier payment terms to those located in fire regions from 30 days to immediate.’ 

Each member has contributed, but a member from the banking industry has gone above and beyond, ensuring that they assist from a charity and staff perspective: 

‘We are currently working with WorkVentures, a social enterprise that refurbishes laptops. We’ve funded them to refurbish 5,000 laptops to provide to the Salvation Army, who will distribute them in affected areas. This has such far-reaching implications; it will help environmentally, as well as with community disaster relief and disability employment.’ 

‘In addition to this, we’ve established a $1.5 million funding packing, which includes customer/employee grants, recovery support, relief packages and unlimited paid leave for volunteers.’ 

A strategy focus? 

Given the increasing expectation on procurement to be a strategic business partner within organisations, many procurement teams took the crisis as an opportunity to use their strategic prowess. 

Yet some didn’t consider strategy at this particular time. A member in the services industry told us: 

‘At this point, the operational requirements far outweigh the strategic requirements.’ 

Other members disagreed though, with many making strategic contributions. One member in the insurance industry has used the crisis to start focusing on a long term-issue: 

‘We’re now strategically elevating climate elements within our procurement operating model.’ 

Another member, in the transport industry, is using the crisis to make critical future preparations: 

‘After this crisis, we’re now in the planning phase for emergency preparedness and response. We are reviewing our supply market, preparing for activity.’ 

Do you relate? How has your procurement team been affected by the Australian bushfire crisis, or other crises you’ve experienced? Tell us in the comments below. 

The Faculty’s Roundtable Program gives leading procurement professionals at member organisations the opportunity to learn, connect and access industry-leading research, networks and knowledge. Collaborative in spirit, the recent bushfire crisis was yet another example of where our Roundtable community was able to band together to support each other, share best practice, and drive positive outcomes for their organisations and our profession. 

Not a member? Join us. Enquire here.

How To Take Back Control At Work – And Learn To Say ‘No’

We can teach ourselves how to politely decline that unwanted extra work and save our energy for when it’s needed.

Do you find yourself taking on more and more work? Are you one of those people who gets dragged into every project? The one others always ask for help?

If you have people-pleasing tendencies or find it hard to say ‘no’, then read on.

Often people-pleasing comes from a well-meaning desire to help and be useful. Psychologists would say that it has its roots in an individual’s requirement for external validation and a need to be liked.

I’m a recovering people-pleaser myself. And I know the difficulties in saying ‘no’ at the office are not limited to those who have a deep psychological need to be validated.

I have seen it pop its head out to say ‘hello’ in many different work situations.

At work, fear of saying ‘no’ can be driven by a desire simply to keep your job. Or to be well placed for promotion. But accepting every little task can soon lead to feeling overwhelmed – and to burnout. 

Claw yourself out of the hole

Healthy self-awareness will help create strong boundaries to ensure that you are in the driving seat in your career. And that as far as possible you control how you are treated at work. 

If you understand your values and your career drivers you can use these as a compass to navigate what you will and won’t get involved in.

Check yo’ self

  1. Know yourself and values – take the free assessment to see what your values are at VIA Institute on Character or try Clifton Strengths Finder. 
  2. Recognise your communication style and preferences.
  3. Be aware of your triggers and needs.

Check your job – what do you get paid to do?

  1. What is your core role and its required tasks? Boil it down to the three most important core components of your role.
  2. What extra stuff that is not in your job description do you do anyway? Assess that list. Does any of it come from perfectionism? Being a people-pleaser? Not wanting to say no or renegotiate?
  3. Once your job is boiled down to its core components, write it on a post-it note. If you can’t fit it into three bullet points on a post-it note then keep refining until it does.

Your post-it note is what powers you, it sticks in your pocket all day. 

Tell someone

Communicate with your manager about what you’ve learned. I have done this many times in my career and in the past with this exercise I have:

  • Received a promotion
  • Demonstrated the need for new staff (three additional staff hired)
  • Gained a new job title
  • Been offered an out-of-cycle pay rise.

I’m not guaranteeing these outcomes for everyone but they’re more likely if you can explain what you’ve learned.  

Power yourself up

Think of it like armour. 

If you need help learning to say ‘no’, you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t actually have to utter that terrifying word.

Make sure you understand what your core focus is. Then anything that doesn’t align begins to stick out like a sore thumb. 

INCOMING! Here comes Shirley trying to get you to do her work again.

What does your post-it note say? If it’s not your core role, then move on to another victim, Shirley. ‘Thanks for the offer, but I’m focusing on my priority areas at the moment, working towards multiple deadlines.’

INCOMING! A shiny new opportunity has revealed itself, but your time would be stretched if you take this on as well as everything else.

Ask to be on the steering committee, which is only a 1-hour commitment once a month. ‘That sounds fantastic, I would love to be involved. I’m at full capacity at the moment. Is there a way I can be involved that wouldn’t be so time-intensive?’

INCOMING! Your boss asks you to do 50 things by the end of the day.

Take out your list of core tasks and ask what they would like you to stop doing in order to accommodate the new tasks. 

In review

  1. Understand yourself.
  2. Spring-clean your job.
  3. Get clear on what it is that you do and boil it down to 3 bullet points.
  4. Wear these like a badge and assess anything incoming against this.
  5. Hold your boundaries firm and reject anything that’s not in alignment.

Use these tips to clarify what inspires you and the core functions of your role. This empowers you to say ‘no’ and make the most of your time.

Hack Your Meetings And Get Your Life Back

Say goodbye to meetings that quickly run off track and have no actionable outcomes with these fresh approaches

We have all been stuck in meetings that either don’t need to happen in the first place or drag on and lose any ounce of effectiveness. These can be tough to sit through, especially if you’ve got better places to be!

Read on for some tips on how to create more effective meetings and alternatives to meetings.

Update how you approach running meetings

Gaining effectiveness can be as simple as making some tweaks to the traditional format. These five actions below are designs to see you ditch the outdated format of sitting around the table listening to the biggest extroverts in the room.

  1. Rotate the chair so that different people get to bring their own style.
  2. Set a simple agenda where the headings are always the same so that people can prepare in advance. For example, the most pressing issues today or this week, what is working well and what needs to change.
  3. Keep the meeting to its scheduled timeframe and don’t be afraid to use your phone to time it.
  4. Stand rather than sit to encourage short conversations that get to the point.
  5. Create a voting system or a phrase to quickly identify when everyone is on the same page (and therefore can move on) or identify areas that may need to be shifted offline. Try the five fingers voting system.

However, if it’s not a recurring meeting with a group of familiar faces or if it’s a 1:1 style with a customer or senior person then create a basic structure. Here’s mine:

  1. Confirm the point of the meeting
  2. Offer a brief overview of the issue at hand
  3. Explain your desired outcome and why
  4. Explain how you know you’ll have sorted the issues at hand
  5. Confirm follow up action points and set realistic timeframes
  6. Follow up with an email

These types of meetings can be nailed in 15 minutes if you control the flow of conversation and stick to the agreed topic at the outset of the meeting.

Ideas on switching up traditional meeting formats

You’ll recognise yourself in most of these situations so here’s how to flip them.

Team management and the day-to-day

Traditional: Manager/s talking at staff

Flip: Bottom-up not top-down

Description: Team members take turns to lead. Everyone brings their top three work priorities and we sometimes add in something lighter like “success this week will be… making it through the finance meeting”

Team planning sessions or away days

Traditional: Managers plan the content. Staff sit around tables listening all day.

Flip: Unconference.

Description: Get the team to plan out the day and what would be meaningful to them. Run an unconference. The benefit is that the team is empowered by creating the topics themselves. This results in a higher chance of buy-in will lead to a higher chance that ideas are carried forward when back in the office.

Project collaboration

Traditional: Meetings, teleconferences and more meetings

Flip: online

Description: Where possible, move all conversations online. Working with a tool like Slack and trello can be a great way to collaborate with a team and is particularly handy for teams that work in different time zones or that are spread across different organisations. The meetings then become a check-in point rather than a critical requirement to keep the project moving. I have found this to be very successful and a way to ensure that additional work-related side hustles don’t creep into your main gig.

Don’t put the “ass” in assume

Take the time to assess the different personality types of your team and people you meet with regularly. It’s important that meeting structures and formats suit different personalities – even if it’s only on a rotational basis.

For example, being a fire type and an extrovert, I am prone to assuming that if anyone has something to say they will just say it. Not true. People often need a warning about the structure of the meeting and what it will be about. They need time to process and come back with ideas and it’s important to allow this to happen. Even if the feedback is via email after the meeting, give people alternatives to speaking up directly.

Don’t let meetings run your life. Change how you view meetings and claim your time back. Combined with some basic productivity hacks, you could completely change your approach to working and conquer that ever-growing to-do list!

Interested in more hot tips on how to hack your work and get more productive? Join the Procurious community of 37,000 members where you’ll find daily inspiration.

Join Us For Big Ideas 2020 As A Digital Delegate

A new year means the start of many new ideas and we have something just for you that’ll get the brain cells firing!

Our flagship event – Big Ideas Summit – is happening on Wednesday 11 March in London and we’d love your brain to be part of it as a digital delegate.

Hear from Sir Clive Woodward, former coach of the England rugby team and keynote speaker at the summit explain why talent isn’t enough and what he learnt about finding joy at work from a dentist.

Check out this great interview with him on what makes a great leader and the traits of English rugby captains.

Or perhaps it’s Professor Omera Khan you’re interested in hearing from as she dives into the death of the Triple Bottom Line framework and the new kid on the block that’s taken its place.

Check out her thought-provoking piece published on Procurious last week – Can we use the disruptive model pioneered by Amazon, Uber and Airbnb in the struggle against climate change?

And if that isn’t enough to entice you to watch along, we’ll leave the final words to those from some past events.

Big Ideas Sydney 2018 – Live from the sidelines

Question: What does it take to be an influencer in an organisation?

Big Ideas Chicago 2019

Question: What’s the most exciting social or environmental change you’ve been able to drive in your career?


Have we enticed you enough already?

If you’re ready to hear Woodward’s electrifying keynote speech plus much more then register here now.

The let us do the leg work while you gather intel and new ways of thinking to drive your business forward this year.

Make 2020 the year of the new idea. We are.

Big Ideas Is brought to you by Procurious – Do you work in procurement or supply chain? Join 37,000 + procurement and supply chain professionals at Procurious today, and receive free access to the latest industry news, information, training, events and much more. 

Information Hoarders Be Gone

Knowledge is power, but knowledge is now being democratised and made accessible to all, thanks to the development of AI.

Long live the democratisation of data

Is there someone in your work life who is hoarding information? Holding the data cards very close to their chest? Making it difficult for you to succeed because they have vital information and know-how shackled up close to their desk?

Good news – their days are numbered!

Knowledge is power, but knowledge is now being democratised and made accessible to all, thanks to the development of AI.

A democratisation of data

In supply chain, data plays a very critical role; data about suppliers, shortages, shipping and shelf life, the list goes on. And supply chain professionals are inundated with making sense of all this data.

Traditionally, to unlock the value from this data we’ve needed a group of people with deep technical skills in our teams to gather, manage and query.  Exhausting and time-consuming work, leaving little space or brain power for problem solving and decision making.  The need for these skills has concentrated the power of data in the hands of a few, rather than the wider team.

Nobody knows this better than the supply chain team at IBM.  With thousands of supply chain employees, over $40 billion in spend and millions of SKUs to manage from over thirteen thousand suppliers in their supply chain across 175 markets, there is a lot of data to keep track of.  There is a real need to ensure every supply chain professional has all the information to make the right decisions at the right time.

I reached out to IBM’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Ron Castro – firstly to congratulate him on his Manufacturing Leader of the Year by the National Association of Manufacturers. However, I also asked him to participate in our Supply Chain Career Boot Camp and then went on to quiz him on the detail behind why Gartner had been recognised by the IBM Supply Chain team as a Finalist in their Chainnovator Awards.

Given the scale and complexity of the IBM supply chain, Ron and his team turned to AI to augment the team’s capabilities.

Ron’s experience leading teams across the globe resulted in a really pragmatic approach.  AI was used to upskill supply chain talent and engage with subject matter experts. The analytics and tools developed gave wider access to data insights for their supply chain pros around the world.

Now, everyone in IBM’s supply chain can make better decisions and be creative – which is just the kind of capability needed in this new and challenging decade ahead.

There’s no more tedious data capture and formatting for the IBM team.  No more worrying that they’ve missed something in the never-ending news stream or even the weather forecast.

The Human + Machine Personas

For many years, the IBM Supply Chain team has known that one type of tech solution couldn’t fit all the needs of their team.  Everyone has different data needs according to their role – some are forecasting, others are planning and many are executing or delivering.

IBM’s approach is simple – it’s people-centred.  Data personas were created to map each supply chain team member’s requirements.  Now AI serves up data in the format and time that suits their needs. 

IBM Sterling’s AI helps you:

  • Gain visibility into data from across your systems and silos
  • Understand external events and their impact on your supply chain
  • Get ahead of events and buy yourself time with predictive insights
  • Capture and share knowledge and best practices with digital playbooks

By creating these personas, IBM Sterling uses AI to provide just what the forecaster needs to augment their brain and make the decision to keep those supply chains flowing.

Unlocking Collaboration

The final piece of the jigsaw is a concept that’s close to my heart – collaboration. 

IBM Sterling’s AI reviews unstructured data in its many and varied forms.  Whether it’s emails, discussion threads or reports, AI now has the power to find insights from previously inaccessible data sources such as team conversations, social media and news feeds, and weather reports… and serves it back to the person who needs it, when they need it.  AI makes key suggestions like:

  • Why don’t you consider this? – “They used it in the UK when weather conditions were similar”
  • Is this a change in risk level?  – “The last time this supplier’s lead times dropped to this level there was an underlying shortage issue”

It’s exciting thinking about the improvements in supply chain from the introduction of AI Augmentation.  I think we’ve only scratched the surface and can’t wait to see what happens as the power of IBM Sterling’s AI is unleashed on our supply chain brains.


Tenders are the Worst Form of Procurement

Tenders may be the traditional form of procurement, but it’s time they were consigned to the dustbin of the past.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Austin Harrison.

“Procurement by tender is the worst form of procurement, except for all the others”

Winston Churchill, British politician, army officer, and writer, 1874-1965

Actually, Winston Churchill never said that, but if he’d been a Bid Manager I reckon he totally would have.

Procurement by tender is, by and large, a solution to a whole lot of problems that ought not to exist. Nepotism, backhanding, bribery and intimidation – those old-school gangster favourites – are obnoxious and illegal and commercially inadvisable, and picking with a pin is a terrible way to get an optimal result. I fully accept that tendering is as about as fair and sensible a method of procurement as I’ve come across.

Then again, if aliens landed and were introduced to the concept of tendering, they might wonder why we’ve created an entire sub-industry devoted to a single method of acquisition that doesn’t always get the right result for the purchaser and doesn’t always guarantee a sale for the best vendor.

Tenders – A Hugely Expensive Lack of Control

As someone who supports sales for a living, the issue I have, if one accepts I’m not a gangster, is that tendering is hugely expensive, and doesn’t quite work like it says on the tin. Purchasing, even of large, complex and multi-component tangibles, as well as intangible stuff like ideas and values, works a bit better for both parties if it’s treated more like old-fashioned shopping.

The buyer needs to try it on, to prod and poke and feel the width, and the vendor needs to suggest politely that while tangerine sequins are a bit last season, this one here is timeless and elegant and 20 per cent off.

A glaring anomaly, for me at least, is that as soon as an invitation to tender is issued, both sides lose a significant element of control. From the sales side, there might have been months or years of locating, learning about, and leading a prospect towards a solution that meets and exceeds needs that have been properly and professionally identified.

An RFx is issued, and suddenly any such headway can be diminished or completely negated. For the purchaser, they give up the tactile, lived experience of shopping and replace it with acquisition by form-filling at arms-length.

And if we’re being brutally honest, both the form and the response can be poorly designed and quite a long way from what is wanted or what is actually delivered.

Re-channelling some of the blood, toil, tears and sweat

While the tendering thing fills up my time quite satisfactorily, I’d prefer to expend a little more effort on winning business, and a little less on just joining in. Tenders are unlikely ever to disappear (and nor should they), but that doesn’t stop me from exploring any alternative approaches.

I’m lucky that the field I work in is flexible to some extent in respect of the sales process. It’s been possible for my team, in collaboration with others, to provision my sales colleagues with written collateral that is designed to preempt, or at least influence (in a non-gangster way) procurement by tender. I believe we’ve had some success with the following:

A Buyers’ Guide to Tenders

More of an infomercial than an advert, this encourages a prospect to ask questions of prospective suppliers. They are, of course, the kind of questions that my company would enjoy answering, and our logo and testimonials are prominent, but for those prospects who are in the early stages of procurement, I believe it’s actually a really useful item

The Case for a New [insert your offering here]

A more substantial justification for change, and how to go about it (define why you’re shopping, don’t let the wrong people make the decision, focus on advantages rather than risk, examine the risk of not changing, etc.). Includes plenty of stories of successful procurement (of my company’s products, but then those are the only stories to which we have access…)

How to write a Request for Proposal

If we have to go down the RFP path, it’s great to receive something that we can respond to properly. You may be surprised, but this isn’t a shameless spruiking for my company’s products. Rather it highlights sensible things to ask, and how best to encourage an honest and comprehensive response (e.g.; a spreadsheet with 500 or 1,000 closed questions might actually deliver less information than 50 broad questions that can be completed as the respondent sees fit, kind of thing) 

A Host of One-Pagers

A host of documents, from one-pagers upwards, that serve to address questions from prospects that repeatedly crop up during the sales process. For my line of work, these include collections of case studies focused on a particular market sector (who else like me has your products?), outlines of change management and ongoing support services, descriptions and examples of opportunities for return on investment, explanations of solution architecture and overarching compliance, etc., etc.

While it seems that these documents have had some impact, it’s difficult to measure precisely how much. Certainly, we’ve received RFPs based on our suggestions, but often we’re not sure if a particular document reassured or persuaded a particular prospect sufficiently for a them to sign the contract.

That said, I take the view that my job is to support the salesfolk, and if they consider this sort of thing helpful, that, for me, is a decent result.

Do you do anything to anticipate or guide procurement by tenders, and move forward into broad, sunlit uplands? What are your experiences here? Always keen to learn more….

How To Increase Your Procurement Salary This Year

Negotiating your salary can be scary… but not doing so can be an even bigger risk and really add up over time.

Money. We all might agree that it doesn’t buy happiness at work and it’s far from the most important benefit in our jobs, but still, it’s a big indicator of the value we bring. And while as procurement professionals, we’re more than happy to put on our poker face, sit at the negotiating table and secure the best deal for our business, many of us are less inclined to employ these tactics when it comes to our own pay rises. 

But why? 

Negotiating for ourselves is challenging, and research shows an incredible two-thirds of us never do it. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to – our hard work and effort would be automatically rewarded. But our jobs, just like our supplier negotiations, are about business, so it follows that we’d need to regularly present our business case to secure the best deal. 

Doing so can be scary, but not doing so can be even scarier and over time, really add up. An example: a study conducted by Linda Babcock showed that only 7% of women attempt to negotiate their salary, as opposed to 57% of men. Over a career, this can make a huge difference – the same research showed that people who asked were able to increase their salary by over 7%. 

But even if we know we should be negotiating for ourselves, doing so can be a completely different beast. So if you want to increase your procurement salary this year, here’s how we recommend you do it: 

Step 1: Beforehand – Thoroughly prepare

A salary negotiation is like any other big-ticket negotiation in your procurement career and as such, you need to be prepared. Although salary can feel very personal, when you’re preparing you need to keep it professional and build a business case for what you’re going to ask for. Here’s how you do that: 

Understand your market value 

Before you enter any negotiations, you need to know your numbers, and salaries are no different. But where do you get this information from? 

Websites such as Payscale can be a great starting point when it comes to salary ranges. It can also be extremely helpful to talk to specialist procurement recruiters, such as those from Procurious’ recruitment partner, The Source, to understand what your market rate should be. 

After you’ve researched your range, land on exact value, ideally at the top end of the range. Why? Research shows that if you do this, you’re scientifically more likely to get closer to this amount, and when you select a number at the top of the range, you give yourself more room to negotiate. 

Once you’ve discovered your market rate, think about what you’d like to ask for as an entire package, in case the business simply isn’t able to afford the raise you’re asking for (or equally, if you value other benefits just as much). Perhaps you’d like to negotiate for more annual leave? Different flexible work conditions? Travel or different projects? Ensure you know what you’re after and have prioritised it according to your preferences. 

The last part of knowing what you’re after is considering the ‘bare minimum’ you’d accept. If you can’t get a raise, will you be ok to accept the changed benefits you’re asking for? Is nothing an acceptable outcome, as long as you know you can try again next year? Deciding on your ‘bare minimum’ can help you know when to  acquiesce your negotiations. 

Prepare your business case 

Now you’re clear on your value, it’s time to show it through preparing your business case. Many people make the mistake of defaulting to their personal circumstances or effort expounded in their business cases, but you should always focus on purely business outcomes and results. 

Your business case needn’t be long, in fact, it could be simply one page, but on it you should include: 

  • Your accomplishments, focusing on the value you added vis-a-vis the strategic priorities of your department (and even the business as a whole)
  • Any awards or other recognition you’ve received
  • Customer, stakeholder or co-worker testimonials (if you don’t have any of these, ensure you proactively ask for some).
  • A plan to achieve future objectives of the business and department.  

Once you’ve put together your business case, practice your pitch. Know inside-out how you’re adding value, and be prepared to answer any questions your manager might have (without getting defensive). Confidence will be a big part of your success, so practice definitely makes perfect. 

Get your timing right (if you can) 

Some companies mandate that salary negotiations and performance reviews go hand-in-hand. But from an HR perspective, there is always room for ‘out-of-cycle’ pay rises where they’re deemed necessary, so if possible, try to pick your timing when you’re negotiating. According to the Harvard Business Review, the best time to negotiate for a rise may be three to four months prior to your performance review, before your boss has decided what rises might be given out (NB. Team salaries often come from the same budget ‘bucket’ so getting in ahead of time might ensure there’s more available for you). 

The first rule of picking your timing is choosing a time, obviously, when your boss isn’t stressed or where you don’t have thousands of impending deadlines. Beyond this, research shows that you should choose a Thursday or Friday to negotiate, as in this part of the week people are usually more amenable to negotiation and compromise. 

Step 2: The meeting – put your best negotiation skills on

Remember the nerves you felt in your first supplier negotiation? Undoubtedly, you’ll feel those one-hundred fold when negotiating for yourself. As such, consciously employ these tactics to ensure you present your best pitch: 

Get your confidence on

Some people think of confidence as something you do – or don’t – have, but in reality there’s lots of things you can do to make sure you look and feel more confident. 

One such thing is to employ what Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy calls a ‘power pose.’ A ‘power pose is where you stand tall with your hands on your hips and your chin and chest raised. Executing one of these, even if it’s in your office prior to your negotiation, helps raise testosterone, which in turn increases confidence and reduces stress. 

You can also make sure you look and feel the part, says self-improvement researcher James Clear.  To do so, choose an outfit that makes you feel your best, and make sure you enter the negotiation room with your head held high, eye contact and a confident smile. ‘The way you enter a room can dictate how the rest of an interaction will be,’ James asserts. 

Finally, if you’re rethinking your morning coffee on your meeting day – don’t. Research shows it makes people more resistant to persuasion, so if you indulge, you might just have an easier time holding your ground! 

Listen before you ask

As you’d know from your supplier negotiations, you’re always in the best position when you’re armed with as much information as possible. Likewise, as counterintuitive as might seem, the first thing you need to do in your salary negotiation is to listen. 

What have our key successes been, you might ask. Or alternatively, what’s the road map for the future and how will be measure our success? The answers to these questions may well cause you to adjust your pitch, depending on what your manager highlights as their most crucial priorities. 

Your pitch

Now you’ve listened, it’s time for your pitch. When you’re discussing your achievements, keep everything professional and fact-based, referencing your business case as needed. 

Use your pitch to present your ‘first preference,’ whether this simply be a pay rise or a combination of pay and other conditions. Don’t mention other options as yet – these are for later down the track if negotiations don’t go as planned. Also take care not to mention anything non-business related, as relevant as it may seem (for example, I need a raise as my rent has  increased, or I need a raise because I learnt my colleague who doesn’t work half as hard earns more). Mentioning personal reasons for a pay rise will distract from the value you add to the business, which is what your salary is fundamentally about. 

Step 3: The big ask – will you get the pay rise? 

Once you’ve prepared to ask for your pay rise and presented your case, your work is almost done. But there’s still the hardest part – actually asking for the raise. How do you do that? Here’s some tips: 

Be direct 

Skirting around the topic, waiting to be asked for a number, or putting too many words into your request can all, unfortunately, be a sign you lack confidence in what you’re asking. The best way to ask for a raise is simply to ask, referencing everything you’ve presented. Try something along the lines of: 

‘Based on the evidence I’ve presented here today, including the research I did on market range, I’d like to request a pay rise to XX.’ 

Be positive, not pushy 

If the first response you get isn’t a straight yes (it almost never will be), you need to resist the urge to sound pushy, beg, or get offended or defensive. If the initial response to your request isn’t positive, ensure that stay positive and continue to lead with the value you’ve added. If you manager wants to dispute or further investigate anything you’ve presented, simply say that you’re happy to provide further evidence. 

This is especially important if you feel yourself getting emotional. Even if you have further evidence at hand, it may be better to present it at a later point when you’re feeling more composed. 

Send evidence via email 

From an HR perspective, it’s unlikely that even if your boss agrees with your request in principle, he or she will be able to approve it straight away. Also, he or she may need to provide evidence to senior management or HR as to why the decision is being made. 

To get on the front foot with this, send your manager an email after your meeting, detailing your request and your business case. Ensure you give your manager a deadline for responding, so you’ll know either way how to move the negotiations forward, if need be. 

Step 4: Dealing with a no 

When we enter a negotiation, the last thing we want is to receive is a ‘no.’ Yet at the same time, we do need to prepare for this as a possible outcome. Here’s how you do that while maintaining your professionalism and your job (if that’s your intention): 

See no as a path to yes 

When it comes to salary negotiations, it can be tempting to see a ‘no’ as a personal indictment on your performance, but according to Forbes, it’s anything but this: 

‘We’re often reluctant to negotiate past no, but we shouldn’t be. After all, it’s not really a negotiation if we’re asking for something our bargaining partner wants.’ 

‘Negotiation is a conversation whose goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with yours.’ 

If we wanted something from our supplier, would we take no as an answer? Probably not. Employ that same ethos in your salary negotiations. 

Make a counter offer 

The beauty of having pre-considered options for your negotiation means that if you get a no to your first request, you can proceed down the list. If you need to do this, continue to lead with value and sell the reasons why the benefits you’re asking for are beneficial to the business, for example, ‘Working a compressed working week has been shown to boost productivity, and I’m confident, given my track record, I can deliver that.’ 

Keep the conversation open

Did you know that some of the world’s most famous negotiations took years, and even decades to pull off? While you’re unlikely to want to wait that long for a pay rise, know that it might take some time to achieve what you’re asking for. Stay positive, make SMART goals (for example, I’d like to discuss this again in 6 months, when I’ve done XYZ) and continue building your business case. 

Have you tried to negotiate your salary? Any other tips for success? We’d love to hear them – please let us know in the comments below. 

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