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Why Should Procurement Managers Study Sales?

Have you ever wondered why should one read an article or book on sales? Well the obvious answer that pops up is that we all are involved in sales and marketing somehow or the other. Beyond this, procurement managers share many of the same qualities and characteristics as sales managers even though they are applied differently. That is why procurement managers can benefit from studying some sales topics; they can learn additional skills to complement their own profession.

The book, ‘The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters about the Business of Life ‘ by Philip Delves Broughton, was published a couple of years ago, but many of the concepts discussed are not only relevant today, but can apply to purchasing managers as well. This book is about methods and personalities of those great sales people who often sit on the other side of the table during negations, and pitch you and your procurement staff on the benefits of their particular products. The book is not only about understanding the persuasive methods of sales managers, but also emulating the best characteristics of these people and learning how to apply them to your own life personally and of course professionally.

We all know that sales people are rejected more often than they are accepted. The key to success lies in being optimistic and never stop believing in one’s own abilities. Just because a company executive does not value what you and your team can do, or criticizes you for past mistakes, does not mean you should give up or accept this position. Instead be focused and optimistic. This attitude will help you rise back with new vigor and the positive outlook means you will continue to elevate your performance rather than wallow in self-pity. This never give-up attitude you often see in sale people will serve the purchasing manager well when obstacles arise.

A successful sales person is one, who is driven by a sense of urgency and need to accomplish the task at hand. A purchasing manager who operates with this same sense of urgency will approve requisitions in a timely manner and ensure on-time delivery to the best of their ability. This helps with efficiency within the business which in turns increases productivity.

The sales manager must possess the ability to persuade the customer and lead him or her through an organized sales process. Persuasion is not all about giving an impressive presentation or tricking the customer into doing what you want them to do. Even while dealing with big stakeholders, you should first learn what the other party wants to achieve. The next step is developing your pitch around their aspiration so that you are not offering something in which they are not interested. They must find a way to meet the needs and help the customer understand why this solution will do what they need. Often the purchasing manager is in a similar situation. They have to source a required product or raw goods. They may have to persuade the office worker that a similar product from a different vendor will serve their need equally well, but at a reduced cost and savings for the company. On the other side it may require persuading the vendor to discount their price or speed their delivery to meet an earlier deadline than normal.

The most success sales people are those who set their conversations by asking questions about the customer’s goals, aspirations, strategies and even obstacles. But if you are not focused and do not know what you want then you cannot be successful. Your final destination should always be crystal clear. Purchasing managers who just go through the motions and do what they are told are not nearly as valuable as one who asks questions. Taking a little time to ask questions can allow you to better serve your customer – the company.

We often believe that being aggressive is not good and frowned upon. Sometimes in n attempt to avoid being aggressive we err on the side of caution, becoming too passive. Sales people need to find a balance in promoting their product. They should have full confidence in the value of their product and truly believe in the good they have to offer. Purchasing managers must also find a balance between aggressive and passive as the tackle the challenges facing them in order to achieve a new level of excellence for their department.

Let the sense of optimism and the confidence in your own abilities carry you upwards on the path of success.

 

January 14, 2014
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BY Bellwether
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