Tip #6: Do read your Ariba email. “We post changes in specifications all the time, so suppliers need to stay on top of the messages that come in from the Ariba message board,” Kory says. “Otherwise they’ll miss out on seeing key changes that can affect their bids.”
Tip #7: Do use the message board to engage. The message board gives you a great way to collaborate with buyers, especially if you can add value in some way. “If you’ve been invited to a sourcing event, that means we want to talk to you, so when something’s not clear or you have specific questions that make sense for the commodity, post it on the event message board,” Kory says. “Communication with vendors is key throughout the sourcing process—we might learn that there’s another way to approach the commodity or project scope, and we prefer that type of exchange to occur via the message board.”
Tip #8: Don’t attempt backdoor selling. Approaching internal stakeholders to negotiate special deals, pricing, or treatment outside a formal sourcing project can seriously backfire. Yet this can occur almost without your realizing it, so stay on guard. “For example, in a less mature organization, an employee who wants to buy something may start to get supplier bids before realizing they have to go through their sourcing team instead,” Kory explains. “But meanwhile they already had relationships with some vendors, and it’s common for those vendors to want to work with the product/service end user, especially if they’re at a disadvantage. So they might ask for inside information—like what other vendors are being considered, or how their pricing stacks up against the competition.” Such practices can damage your credibility and even cause you to be disqualified.
Tip #9: Do plan your strategy before the event. “Vendors tend not to think about strategy when going into auctions, but they should,” Kory notes. “For example, know your walkaway price before you begin so you’re not going crazy calculating during the actual event, then start above that (but never above the lowest offer you’ve already made) and bid down to it.” By considering both the buyer’s and your own best interests ahead of time—and outlining potential strategies to meet both—you can develop an approach that works to your mutual benefit.
Tip #10: Don’t give up just because you’re not in first place. Bid results can flip at the last minute, so keep striving throughout the event, even if the odds look long. “For example, we just ran an auction for monitors, and towards the end the vendor in first place was disqualified,” Kory says. Though this pushed the second- and third-place vendors into first and second, the third-place vendor had already stopped negotiating, causing them to miss out on the chance to compete. “Even if you think first place is way out there, try to get into second. Or think about how you can get yourself to the most strategic position possible, even if it’s not the best position, because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Kory advises. “If you’ve gone as far as you can go with price, maybe you can offer better payment terms or other value-adds that will get you over the finish line.”