Sales Pitches – Are Your Suppliers Delivering the Goods?


Dog and pony shows.  I hate them.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that there is a reason that sales and marketing are two different functions.

Supplier Management Purchasing Training

Dog & Pony Show?

Sure, people lump them together by calling them “sales and marketing”, but it doesn’t mean they are the same thing.  Peanut butter and jelly aren’t the same thing either, even though they always go together.

Marketing comes up with incredible product and service benefits.  In fact, they don’t call it a product or service, they call it a “solution”.

To quote Scott Adams, “a solution looks suspiciously like a product or service, except it costs a lot more”.  I always get a kick out of that.

And so out come the supplier websites touting benefits.  The glossy brochures.  The pamphlets.  The colorful PowerPoint presentations.  The testimonials. The customer lists.  You’ve seen them all.

But something funny happens on the way to the dance.  Sales and marketing stop talking to each other.  Solutions become products and services when the contract is actually written.

How does that happen? Who authorized that?  Did you even notice?  All those incredible benefits, where did they go?  Didn’t you capture them in your contract?

I’m guessing not, because your end user is busy defining the SOW and the Spec, and they are thinking about what they want to buy, not *what they actually want to experience*.

And guess which one your end user will complain about?  You guessed it, they will tell you what you want to buy, but they will always complain about what they experienced.

So let me tell you a little secret that I developed well over a decade ago.  It’s pure gold.  And suppliers won’t like you for it, but you have every right in the world to do it.

Your job is to make suppliers put their money where their mouths are.  Is it ok for them to do a big dog and pony show about a “solution” and then have that followed by a contract that only buys you goods and services?

It’s not!  So what you need to do is the following.   When you see these brochures, websites, PowerPoint presentations, etc. just ask this one simple question:

“If we were to strike a deal, of course you would have no problem if I put these solution benefits you have in your ______________ (website, brochure, PowerPoint, etc) into the contract as specific and measurable performance guarantees, right?”

Prepare to see some very uncomfortable sales people.  Oops.  You just made sales and marketing stay connected.

Now conversely, if the sales people are totally ok with this and don’t flinch, then you have a good sign: they actually intend to deliver the goods.

The bottom line is that this is not a dirty trick that you are playing.  This is not an attempt to “get the upper hand” or “get an unfair advantage”.

All you are doing is making the supplier deliver what they said their solution will deliver.  What’s so unfair about that?  They were the ones who came up with this stuff, not you.

So listen carefully during dog and pony shows, and recognize that a dog and pony show can take place anywhere, including over email or on the internet.

Take notes, print off every single piece of marketing literature that the sales people hand out or refer you to, and capture all the performance parameters that they said their solution would deliver.

You can then add a clause that references these things as performance guarantees and make failure to perform to these as a material breach of contract.

Once again, if the supplier squawks when they see this language, then you should say something like the following:

“I’m a bit concerned that you have any issue over this wording at all.  I didn’t come up with this language on my own.  It should be really familiar to you actually, because I got it directly from your marketing literature.”

Then continue, “Are you telling me that you are not sure your solution will deliver to these performance parameters as outlined in your marketing literature?  Those deliverables are the main reason why we’re putting this contract in place.”

You don’t have to be sarcastic or condescending, just very matter of fact.  Let the sales person do the explaining.  If they can’t come up with words, give them time.

They need to explain, and if they can’t give you an adequate explanation, just imagine what will happen after they have your money!

So force the connection between sales and marketing.  Make suppliers put their money where their mouths are.  Focus on the procurement of performance results and solutions – that’s what the supplier told you to do anyways, right?

This simple step – bridging the gap between sales and marketing – can make all the difference in your results and your procurement career.  Now go off and do something wonderful.

Be your best!

Omid G

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