By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

ProcurementIn the same way few buyers look forward to meeting new salespeople, so it is salespeople don’t relish, and may even dread, meeting people from procurement. These meetings can be especially stressful for sellers when they occur at the end of long sales cycles at quarter or year-end when trying to finalize transactions. Buyers have been known to delay making large decisions until late in a quarter because deadlines for closing sales improve their bargaining position and power.

Procurement can be viewed as a seller’s nightmare for several reasons. Their agents:

  1. Seem to slow down when sellers are in a hurry

  2. Are unaware (and don’t want to acknowledge) any value that has been established

  3. Have been trained in negotiating tactics and techniques

  4. Are good at squeezing salespeople on price

  5. Are often measured by concessions and discounts they negotiate

  6. Can be last hurdle standing between sellers and orders

If the issue of getting bogged down by Procurement arises, the advice most commonly given nets out to contacting the most senior Key Player you’ve called on, notifying him or her that Procurement is delaying the start of the project and therefore the projected savings, and see if the buyer will intervene. The best outcome would be that the PO gets expedited. A less favorable outcome is that the wheels of Procurement are allowed to continue to grind.

While sellers are told that price is the primary issue in making buying decisions, studies show this just isn’t the case. A buyer in one of my major accounts years ago had a plaque in his office stating:  “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a lower price.”

Procurement doesn’t want to hear complaints from other departments or users about goods and services they provide. Some things Procurement may not readily discuss that may be important to them include:

  • Quality of goods and services

  • Having delivery commitments met

  • Flexibility of terms

  • Choosing vendors having a wide range of offerings so that:

    • The number of suppliers can be reduced

    • Volume purchase agreements can be negotiated

    • Accurate billing and consolidation of invoices

    • Ease of placing orders

    • Shipment/delivery tracking capabilities

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