Breaking into the Corporates!
On Wednesday 12th November WEConnect International hosted their European Conference 2014. Their mission is to ensure that majority-women-owned business (51%) are given fair and equal access to corporate and public sector procurement opportunities both on a national and international scale. So, if connecting with the corporate world is something you are interested in this could be a route that you want to consider!
It was an extremely empowering day and I loved how everything from the brochures, name badges, catering and even the tea bags at coffee break were supplied by women owned businesses. It was inspiring to meet with so many female entrepreneurs, many who were running hugely successful businesses and were at a stage where interacting and securing contracts with large corporates was their next step.
Rupinder mentioned to me that we have many in our community who are potentially interested in getting onto the supply chain of a multinational or a government body. You may be thinking how do I do it, what are my options and where do I start? The good news is that a diverse supplier base is no longer being viewed as an option for these businesses and they are being placed under greater scrutiny than ever before to see it a business imperative.
Here are some key bits of information from the day to share with you and hopefully provide a little more insight into the world of corporate procurement world.
We heard from the procurement departments from a selection of corporates including; Accenture, The Coca Cola Company. AIG, E&Y, IBM, Sodexo, Marriot, IPG and Cummins. Their advice was unanimous. Each of their strategies included the below key steps:
1) Get Certified by organisations such as WEConnect. Many of the corporates advised that they saw this as a benefit when considering your application.
2) Understand your customers and how you can benefit them. This means not only your existing customers but the customers of the corporate that you want to work with.
3) You must know whats your USP is. What is your unique selling point that will set you apart from competitors?
4) Network with the key decision makers. Take initiative to make the right contacts whether this is via the procurement department directly or someone else in the business (depending on your product)
5) Fill the procurement forms out fully and carefully. Don’t give yourself any chance to fall at the paper hurdle.
6) Be patient and proactive. The process is lengthy and will require perseverance and the right attitude.
As well as hearing from the procurement departments we heard from Mindy Gibbons-Klein who encouraged us to take initiative and raise our brand awareness via thought leadership. Her premise is that if you are seen as the thought leader in your industry, you are going to catch the attention of many people and potentially someone who can give you an ‘in’ into the corporate world. She urges us to have the courage to share our innovative ideas and be recognised for them. Start writing, blogging, sharing in whatever way you can.
My favourite speaker of the day was Lara Morgan. She says it like it is- and she gave very clear strategic advice about her recipe for sales success. I would highly recommend you watch her speak as it was truly inspiring. To be working on the corporate scale your sales will need to represent this capacity. Her recipe for sales success included loving your customers, innovating your product, improving operational efficiency and having an agile leadership. We love her business card!
Ultimately it is about getting in front of the people that you need to change your business. If you are interested in finding out more about WEConnect visit their website at the following link http://weconnectinternational.org/en/
Amy Samra – Intern