Procurement vs. search consultants in ad agency new business

Hail and well met, fellow new business aficionado! Rupal Parekh of Ad Age wrote a fine story about MCD hiring a new, senior level procurement officer. My guess is that he’ll be coming soon to a MCD client negotiation near you. In the comment area, yours truly said something about understanding the difference between a search consultant and a procurement person in a pitch. The topic begs a few hundred words or so that can help your new business efforts.

So, are there differences? Yes, there are.

Let’s check off the obvious ones:

Length of involvement. The searchers are in it for the short term. Typically hired for just a pitch or two. They come in, have an impact, and then move on. Just one of the challenges this brings up is ongoing client monitoring and attention paid to the actual follow-through of all the promises made from both parties once the honeymoon ends. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for agencies? I leave that to you, gentle reader. But this boy scout suggests it’s a bad thing for everyone.

Lack of agency search expertise. This is the best practices argument. Searchers might say because they are involved in multiple companies across a given year, they are in a better position to identify and use the latest techniques. True? Meh. Your mileage may vary. There are plenty of searchers out there that do crappy jobs. And plenty of procurement practices that are not customized to professional service selection, management and optimization. Were I a buyer of said services, I’d want to see some proof of best, innovative, etc. But that’s me!

A more clear perspective. Yeah, sadly, there is that. This one’s a dig at the pay-to-play searchers. Folks who accept money from both agencies and clients in the search process. You are being spared how awful this idea is. But with a procurement professional, it’s always clear who the client is. That’d be the marketer. Not the agency. Ever.

But we’re really just scratching the surface here. Expect some more thinking around it coming soon…to your favorite new business blog.

While you wait, are you looking for more on procurement? Check this Thunderclap thinking out:

And if you want to know a bit more, gimme a shout. Particularly if you’re a great big agency or holding company. For I have a ton of thoughts around how your business can be made better through procurement.