4 SaaS sales rep best practices for working with procurement

Procurement

SaaS sales reps achieve better outcomes when they collaborate with procurement on deals. Use these 4 best practices to improve your next negotiation.

Vendr | Together, smarter buying
Written by
Vendr Team
Published on
December 16, 2022
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Sales and procurement share an essential yet precarious relationship. Procurement’s first mandate is to acquire needed goods at a fair price. On the other hand, sales rates their success on revenue creation, making deals, and moving products or services. 

These two objectives may seem at odds, but the reality of the sales/procurement relationship is more nuanced. Procurement and sales can not only work together — but achieve more success overall when they do.

We talked to Vendr SaaS Procurement Specialist Richard Hesse to learn the most effective ways SaaS sales professionals can work with procurement leaders to close sales that work for everyone. 

His insights from working with hundreds of sales reps and stakeholders have yielded a set of best practices for sales professionals and procurement teams interested in building mutually beneficial relationships within the negotiation process.  

Four ways to make the sales and procurement dynamic stronger

Richard was excited to share his best practices for removing friction from the SaaS buying cycles. These methods respect the objectives of each party, set an appropriate pace for discussions, and create the potential for long-term mutual success:

Recognize common goals

There are no good cops or bad cops in SaaS procurement; there are simply two parties working toward a successful deal. The directives for sales managers and procurement professionals may be slightly different — sales teams have a quota to meet, while procurement exists to secure services and avoid unnecessary costs

Even if the sales team’s motivation is to work quickly, the procurement team is motivated to work carefully.

Finding common ground within these goals is key to using sales/procurement collaboration bringing deals together. 

First, explains Richard, it’s essential to move away from the perception of procurement as bottom-dollar thinkers. 

“Procurement is seen as commoditizing everything, but this is often not the case.” 

The procurement function operates on three main objectives: 

  1. Help the business achieve its ultimate outcomes (e.g., growth, product launches, strategic initiatives). 
  2. Manage supplier and supply chain risk.
  3. Achieve the financial goals associated with the purchase, such as pricing.

The focus on total value over the bottom line has greatly increased for many procurement teams. “We’re looking years in advance of software purchases. Not just get the latest license, but know the tool will truly work and see its strategic value.” 

Goals change over time, so Richard recommends treating renewals of existing customers as a chance to re-establish the business case for a tool with a sales department. Building a runway for renewals gives teams time to examine how procurement and sales objectives may have changed since the first signing. 

Align on the procurement process

Once goals and objectives are clear, work to set a buying process that works for everyone. Most SaaS deals don’t come to fruition with a quick discussion of features and an emailed contract. It’s up to both parties to adopt a framework for discussions

Procurement should lead the conversation about the sales process, says Richard. As the party with the most visibility into desired outcomes and scope, they are in the best position to set the pace and parameters. 

This approach sets expectations with the sales leaders and saves time. It removes the urgency from deals and gives these parties the best chance to establish strong, mutually beneficial outcomes. 

“If you have a clean, easy process, and expectations are set and understood by the salesperson, the holistic transactional value will be there for a long time.”

Collaborate for long-term value

When you move away from transactional sales methods, opportunities emerge for long-term benefits in the sales/purchasing collaboration:

  • For procurement, partnering with relationship-minded suppliers creates opportunities for savings without the sense of urgency that sometimes underlays negotiation.
  • Building relationships between sales and procurement yields easier pricing discussions and more reliable outcomes without stress. 

The key to successful collaboration is to focus on the core relationship and allow it to shape discussions.

“I want to develop a good relationship with my salesperson,” says Richard, “because they’ll be easier to go back to next year.” 

Procurement sees the value in working with credible, responsive salespeople who think long-term.

It doesn’t stop with the deal at hand. Strong supplier relationships open the door to other opportunities, such as new client referrals. 

“The value of developing a good relationship with procurement is exponential.”

Become strategic partners for sales enablement

Software purchase negotiation is an intricate process. SaaS buying expertise is a strong indicator of success in such a transaction. 

However, many organizations don’t yet have dedicated procurement. Often, the process falls to an engineer with a vested interest in purchasing outcomes. 

An engineer may not have the bandwidth for a full-scale competitive analysis and negotiation process, so they find a tool and click a link to contact the company for a price. “They’ll then spend weeks or months in talks with a sales rep,” says Richard. The deal might happen without the necessary legal or security review if the purchase comes together. 

Moreover, the stakeholder may not have final authority over the decision. Many sales reps seek access to someone (usually in the C-suite) who they perceive as the decision-maker. However, in many cases, outcomes are determined by consensus: 

  • Infosec and IT Security team members audit compliance and data security
  • Legal addresses liability potential and contract performance
  • Finance leaders examine pricing and budgetary considerations

SaaS sales professionals who understand this group dynamic can humanize the process. 

These partnership-minded reps understand the ideal outcome. They view the transaction not as an exercise in achieving the highest-and-best pricing but as a chance to align on value and deliver results. 

How Vendr fits into the sales and procurement partnership

Vendr serves as an extension of procurement for SaaS purchases. 

Rather than critical purchases falling to a buyer with limited time and visibility, we align sales and procurement for success. Our buyers help highlight good decisions by identifying the “why” behind every purchase. This creates the holistic value between sales and procurement in every deal.

Vendr buyers are also well-versed in contracts for the most commonly purchased SaaS tools and are able to make easy call-outs for better pricing and terms. They mitigate the risk of skipping critical steps in the approval process. 

A procurement partner like Vendr isn’t solely a benefit for procurement. 

While Vendr’s buyers negotiate from the client's perspective, they also bring a different tone to discussions. They break down barriers.

We also provide access to internal decision-makers that sales reps may find difficult to achieve independently.

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If you’re a procurement professional seeking better partnerships with suppliers, see what Vendr can do for you here.

If you’re on the sell side looking to close more deals, faster, you’re in the right place. See how we help reps from top companies stay on top of all of their deals.

Vendr Team
Vendr's team of SaaS and negotiation experts provide their curated insights into the latest trends in software, tool capabilities, and modern procurement strategies.

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