The Point

One of the interesting things about consistently reading and hearing content from quality sources is that you start to notice trends. It is amazing how often the same topics arise at the same time in different places. We use this blog as a way to help you stay on top of the major themes in procurement and supply chain management.

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“The skills for becoming a champion caliber negotiator are acquired skills. Nobody is born with great negotiating skills. You are born with the skills of crying and breathing, all other skills you acquire throughout your life.” – Soheila Lunney

 

“The skills for becoming a champion caliber negotiator are acquired skills. Nobody is born with great negotiating skills. You are born with the skills of crying and breathing, all other skills you acquire throughout your life.” – Soheila Lunney

 

If you watched Peter Faulk play the character Lieutenant Columbo in the thirty years ‘Columbo’ was on television, you undoubtedly saw him break a case by turning back at the last moment and asking, “Just one more thing…”, a question which always ended up breaking the case.

Maybe procurement need to stop and ask another question or two as well. In a recent blog post, ‘What Questions Should Your Clients be Asking’, sales blogger S. Anthony Iannarino talked about the challenges sales people face when they are not able to communicate the value of their solution because the buyers they work with are not asking the right questions. His advice provides some techniques for redirecting the conversation or asking the missing questions so that the necessary information gets across.

While we want to have a complete picture of each solution so that we can accurately compare our options, we’ve all made the mistake of asking questions that are so open ended that sales people talk ad nauseam about something we can't compare across the suppliers in contention. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t pieces of information we are missing out on.

Buyers Meeting Point’s long time advisor The Sales Guy has always advocated asking sales people something about their compensation package or their company's business development priorities so those factors can be brought into a thorough evaluation. What else should we ask?

Here are a few questions that The Sales Guy suggests working into your face-to face supplier meetings. Some are relevant for incumbents and some for new companies you are evaluating, but all of them will allow you to put together a better category management strategy and contract.

  1. “If you are selling to my competitors what products and services are they buying more of and what is the value provided?”  “What are they buying less of?”
  2. “We are spending $XXXK dollars with your company on an annual basis.  If I was to spend that same amount differently what changes would you recommend and why?” 
  3. “What can our companies collaborate on that would help your company bring new products to market and provide competitive advantages for my company?”
  4. “What business model changes is your company introducing and how might they be advantageous to my company?”

 

If you have a question for The Sales Guy, click here to submit it and we will get you an answer!

Posted by on in The Flip Side

As a buyer, have you ever noticed how much effort sales teams put into the training, strategy, and education of their people? If you type "sales training" into Google, you get well over FOUR MILLION hits. In order to put that figure into perspective, typing "procurement training" into the same search engine pulls only 235,000 results.

As the economy starts to rebound and leverage positions change, becoming a ‘customer of choice’ is being discussed in many procurement conference rooms. You would think that us sitting around discussing how to be the most fabulous customers possible would be music to a sales person’s ears!

Posted by on in The Flip Side

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”
John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury (1834 - 1913)

This week's trip to the Flip Side is a humorous - and visual - look at the many perceptions of sales people. We came across an image last week that represents how sales people are perceived by their friends, customers, and society as a whole as well as the way they see themselves versus what their job is really like. We also had our undercover sales advisor, “The Sales Guy” interpret the reality of the situation. Visuals are a great way to communicate subtle differences, and this will allow you to laugh as well as to gain some additional insight into the complex, multi-faceted world of being a sales account rep.

Without further ado, here is the picture:

just say noWe have all been in stores when the sales clerk comes up and asks if they can help you. What is our standard response? "No thanks, I am just looking." 

As a procurement professional, we use different terms but the message to the sales teams is the same. I am not parting with any funds until I am good and ready!! With the Sales Guy interview last week, I thought it would be good to look at sales blogs for some basics on how they get beyond our "No thanks, just looking" excuses. 

On January 31st “The Sales Guy”, BMP’s undercover sales advisor, was the featured speaker on the Strategic Sourcing & Procurement Group Call. We recommend that you become a member of the SS&P Group if you aren’t already.

If you are interested in learning more about The Sales Guy and the insights he has offered through Buyers Meeting Point, you can read our Posts from the Flip Side or submit a question to him to be answered in our blog. You can also listen to the call recording on demand.

Do you have a question you'd like to ask The Sales Guy? Submit it here and we'll track him down and get an answer. All answers will be shared anonymously on 'The Point' blog so we can all join in the conversation.

Today's eSourcing wiki article, The Quest for Purchasing Fire, discusses the process and obstacles for getting buy-in from C-level executives as well as the stakeholders that will utilize an esourcing or eprocurement solution.

I have been the project lead on several software implementations and most of them have been difficult technically but the most challenging area was the change management for the end-user and the selling of the benefits. Pointing out the WIIFM (what's in it for me) definitely made a positive difference in moving the transition forward. 

Posted by on in The Flip Side

In our past conversations with The Sales Guy, he reminded us of the important role the calendar plays in a supplier’s sales strategy and execution. So as we start a new calendar year, we caught up with TSG to see what we should expect our sales counterparts to be focused on right now…

If you’ve spent any time on our site this week, you’ll see that we are having a customer-service centric week. It all started when I attended last week’s Next Level Purchasing Association webinar where Peter Nero of Denali Group shared his thoughts on what is next for procurement. The answer was better customer service.

As a follow up, we spoke with The Sales Guy about the kinds of internal customer service he thinks procurement can provide, and this morning we read the Wikipedia article on customer service. We’re not looking to turn procurement into a transactional call center, but some of the traditional wisdom about how to keep your customers happy applies to the relationship between us and our internal stakeholders.

Posted by on in The Flip Side

Last week I attended a great webinar (sponsored by the Next Level Purchasing Association) on Procurement Innovation where Peter Nero from Denali Group discussed just how critical a customer service orientation is to the future of procurement within the organization. While I listened to him discuss some of the changes procurement will need to make to improve the status quo, I couldn’t help but think about how sales reps deal with demanding customers on a regular basis. And for them, not satisfying those customers often means not getting a sale.

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This week’s Wiki-Wednesday topic is benchmarking, and we are covering it at the suggestion of BMP member Victor Halchin. A discussion has been going on in the Strategic Sourcing & Procurement group on LinkedIn in response to the following question: "If you are "locked " into a supplier , would you be prepared to try another for benchmarking even if it was just to "bash " down the supplier on price - would you change suppliers if you were offered the same service at reduced costs on your purchasing requirements?”

This week’s Flip Side topic comes from a webinar and white paper put out by The Executive Conversation and the Brandon Hall Group in July 2011 “Essential Selling Competencies: The Buyers Side Perspective”. I haven’t been able to find a place on either company’s website for you to directly download the whitepaper or listen to the archive of the webinar, so let me start by giving you a quick rundown on the whitepaper itself.

Posted by on in The Flip Side

In order to get another perspective on the topic of procurement outsourcing, we reached out to our undercover sales expert, "The Sales Guy". TSG is a sales VP with 30 years and approximately $1B+ in sales under his belt. We are keeping his identity under wraps – for the same reason magicians never reveal their tricks, his colleagues might not like him giving us the inside scoop on sales’ view of procurement. Here are his thoughts...

Okay, so you know how every week in my PI Window on Business radio update on the coming week I say that you just never know what to expect? This week is the perfect example. I attended three webinars, and the one that I didn’t even know about until the day before it happened was the best of all. Read on!

Do you have a question you'd like to ask The Sales Guy?  We've got his ear and he's willing to help. Just send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  a contact form for the blog and we'll get you an answer.

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