Build a customer mindset and a winning procurement team

PL Staff

Jens Hentschel of the Fivis Partnership shares his thoughts on developing a mindset and attributes in your team that will help your function thrive

You have to develop a customer-focused mindset if you really want to improve performance within both your team and your business. This shift requires everyone in procurement to think and act differently and procurement chiefs must lead this change.

To develop the right mindset, CPOs must cultivate the following attributes and behaviours within their teams:

  • Care.
  • Compete.
  • Respond.
  • Improve.
  • Win.

The first four of these attributes cover all the actions your team need to take to meet customers’ expectations. It doesn’t matter if it is your CFO, CEO, CMO, manager or shareholder – each of your customers wants you and your team to care, compete, respond and improve.


It is important to understand your internal and external customers and focus your work accordingly. You need to understand their fears, desires, wishes, constraints, hopes, resources and habits. You also need to talk your customer’s language, as well as stay ahead of any changes in their needs and requirements.

Adapt, listen, feel, experience, sense, observe, question and challenge to fully understand what is important to your customers. Is it savings they are after or are they looking for goods that deliver on sustainability?


Always be open to feedback. Feedback is a gift. Absorb it and look to learn from the people and teams around you. Always look to improve at whatever you are doing for a customer as they appreciate – and expect – this mindset of always trying, competing and aspiring to get better.


The status quo should never be enough; you should always look to improve and refine what you do. This is your promise to your customer. Learn, build your skills, innovate and adopt out-of-the-box thinking.


Your customer’s timeline should be your timeline. You need to be available to meet customer requests, rather than confine yourself to office hours. You need to be quick, fast, proactive and communicate in a way your customer understands.

The last element is as important as the others, but specifically addresses your needs and expectations as a leader. A relationship can only be successful if both sides win.

Procurement chiefs must be aware of what they want to achieve and what any ultimate success looks like. Always ask what the purpose is of what you are doing and who you are working with.

You should also ask yourself and be clear about what a win looks like to articulate what you want to achieve. As a procurement function, this should include your strategic vision and targets such as savings, sales and growth.

These five attributes form the complete customer-focused mindset. We call it the Fivis mindset. It is a dynamic approach and requires you and your team to continuously develop to ensure all parties win.

Jens Hentschel is founder and CEO of The Fivis Partnership 

This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.

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