4 Strategies for Building Better Relationships with Corporate Procurement Teams

If your law firm wants business from Fortune 500 companies and their international equivalent, you must know how to work effectively with procurement. That’s the word from Silvia Hodges Silverstein, PhD, Executive Director of the Buying Legal Council.

While general counsel may still be the final decision makers in legal services purchases, it will be very challenging to reach that final level of consideration without procurement’s approval.

“Procurement has been gaining influence in the buying of legal services in the last decade,” says Dr. Silverstein. “They expect firms to behave like prudent business partners who have their best interest top of mind and are aligned with their approach.”

Win over procurement teams with urement expects by following these four strategies:

1. Show you can work efficiently.
Law firms must take an industrial approach to providing legal service, says Dr. Silverstein.“In the past, law firms treated every matter as a unique scenario, even though they handled similar situations many times previously,” says Dr. Silverstein. “Today, law firms must apply the principle of the learning curve. They accumulate knowledge over a period of time and therefore, can provide some cost savings because they can work more efficiently.”

2. Never attempt to circumvent procurement.
When procurement wants to become involved, it can be tempting to say to go to your existing relationships in the legal department and say, “Let’s do this directly.” Resist temptation, advises Dr. Silverstein.“It’s often not the legal department’s choice to bring in procurement. Chances are, it’s the Chief Financial Officer, or the Chief Executive Officer,” she points out.

3. Know precisely how much your services will cost to deliver.
“Procurement professionals demand predictability, project management, and budget management more than any general counsel because they’re numbers people,” says Dr. Silverstein.So it’s key to understand the metrics that procurement uses to evaluate law firms. “They really believe if you know your business you should know how long it takes to deliver and how much that will cost,” she says.

Of course, the unexpected can happen which can create more hours than anticipated. If that’s the case and you fear you’re going over budget, be sure to let procurement know immediately.

“Hoping and waiting will not help,” warns Dr. Silverstein.

4. Package your experience.
“Firms win points if they can demonstrate they solved a very similar issue for another client, just make sure that client isn’t the prospect’s biggest competitor,” says Dr. Silverstein.

Provide case studies that outline your industry experience coupled with robust project management. Creating industry practice groups can make this process far easier.

“Show that you can hit the ground running without having to conduct extensive research, and you can deliver what you promise,” she says.
In essence, really understand what procurement professionals value. Achieve this by proactively reaching out to procurement professionals so they know you before every issuing you an RFP.  Introhive customer relationship automation makes that light-years easier. It automates customer relationship management so you can see, at a glance, who is connected to the procurement professional you want to reach and  allows you to see how and when they’ve connected. See how it works. Schedule a demo that will take less time than lunch.

Thanks again to Dr. Silverstein for her insight. If you’d like to learn more about working with legal procurement, check out her book, Legal Procurement Handbook, which dives deep into what procurement professionals are  looking for. Or become a member of Dr. Silverstein’s organization, Buying Legal Council, which provides its members services such as best practices teleconferences.

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