Embrace the future – it is here today
With each passing day, the need for new commercial capabilities becomes more evident – and to support this, commercial groups must change.
Gone are the days when business to business relationships were marked with adversarialism and contention. The narrow views typified by sales and procurement (to a high degree) and legal (to a significant degree) are destroying value. Trading parties must increasingly cooperate to deliver efficient and effective results.
Adversarial and arm’s length behavior carries a tremendous cost. It frequently results in selection of the wrong supplier or confusion over requirements. It prevents proper definition of scope or goals and the creation of effective performance measures or governance techniques. This results not only in expensive claims, disputes and changes, but it adds enormously to operating costs through inefficient use and deployment of resources.
At this week’s IACCM Europe conference, sales guru Neil Rackham acknowledged how the world of selling must alter, with the need for a new ‘commercial’ breed of relationship managers and developers – people who can sit with their client as a partner, mutually committed to developing workable business solutions.
But who will this ‘commercial expert’ sit with? Certainly not old-school procurement, with its continued focus on savings. Unless procurement also recognizes the importance of shifting away from its focus on control, compliance, categories and process. it will rapidly become irrelevant. While the associations representing procurement are increasingly talking about change, they seem unable to define what that really means and to assist their members in making the transformation needed.
The IACCM Europe conference felt to me like a true turning point for those who have embraced the future of commercial excellence. It is an exciting and energizing time – only too evident in the enthusiasm – indeed the passion – of those who attended. Watching professionals from both buy-side and sell-side embracing the need for a new collaborative spirit was uplifting. For these people, the next few years hold true challenge, but also great excitement.