Sourcing Beyond the Spreadsheet“Numbers never lie!”

Whether it be in school or business, we’ve all heard that saying at some point. In most circumstances we accept that the data is the data, and the numbers speak for themselves. While numbers may never lie, they also don’t tell the whole story. That’s where relationships come into play, and take the sourcing process above and beyond the truth the numbers tell.

The sourcing process (on paper) is very simple. Good sourcing professionals will analyze a category, survey the market, and do their best to put together the most competitive, cost saving proposal to maximize savings for their client. Great sourcing professionals ensure their recommendation/sourcing event minimizes the impact on their client’s direct or indirect business model. Exceptional sourcing professionals know how to recommend an option that may not save their client the most money but makes the most sense. Just because the numbers show money is being left on the table does not mean it is what is best for the client. Consultants that know their client, know their industry, and know what is important to them (besides saving money) distinguish themselves from other firms by demonstrating to their clients it’s not all about saving money – it’s about sound business acumen driving decisions that position the client for long term success. Long term success for a client equals additional opportunity for future business. Consultants who know their stakeholders understand this concept, and strategically choose their course of action accordingly. How can you tell if your firm has one of these advanced consultants? Here are a few key traits that set consultants apart.

They’re good communicators. Communicating thoughts, information, and opinions clearly and effectively is something every consultant should be able to do, and the exceptional ones make it look effortless. 

They’re good listeners. Being able to communicate is very important, but being able to listen is essential. Listening to your clients and understanding their needs – the first time they tell you – gives them peace of mind and the consultant instant credibility.

They learn from their colleagues. There is an old saying in poker – if you don’t know who the sucker is at the table, it’s probably you! As far as sourcing is concerned, if you are the smartest person in the room – it’s time to find a new room. Learning and growing never stops. Look for a sourcing team that is dedicated to continuing education, earning accreditation, and constantly growing their team with diversified professionals.

They’re humble, yet confident.
There is a fine line between cockiness and confidence. The best consultants know how to demonstrate more humility than bragging, and let their results do the talking. They know when they’re the best, and know how to act when in the spotlight. A little humility goes a long way in developing a rapport with a client who is depending on your results – not your swagger.

While data and numbers play an important role in the sourcing process the story they tell is incomplete. Beyond the smoke and mirrors of fancy excel graphs, charts, and savings calculations is the reality of how these numbers truly impact a client’s business. Those who can take those truths from the spreadsheet to the boardroom are the ones who can ensure this story ends with long term success.
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Nick Harasymczuk

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