Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe, two of MarketDojo's founding directors, have a blog called The Secret Diary of Market Dojo. Last week a guest blogger, Sam Hallett from Bournemouth University, posted two articles on the psychology of buying. They provide an interesting, historical perspective on the thought process behind the buying process. While most of the content covers buying from a individual consumer’s point of view, I think that the ideas carry over to corporate procurement.
Part 2 ends with the following statement:
Today, though, it is acknowledged that to sell effectively a firm must not appeal to the sea but to individual fish within it.
Since we were interested for more on the topic, we sent the quote over to The Sales Guy for his reaction.
From The Sales Guy:
I just finished reading both of the articles you referenced. IMHO there is a corporate equivalent to the consumer purchase psychology. Corporate procurement people will have their decisions influenced by factors that align or conflict with their business (and personal) philosophy. A conservative thinker will steer his/her decision toward the choice they consider "safe". An old business saying was "No one ever got fired for buying IBM". That dates back to the time when corporations used main frame computers for their early office automation needs. A conservative decision maker knew that IBM might not have had the best technology but they never left a customer without an upgrade path. IBM shipped its share of lemons but there was always a recovery plan. It was the low risk decision - but rarely the least expensive. A more aggressive risk taking procurement person would opt for the latest and greatest solution from a newcomer believing that they were paying less and getting more. This person would be confident in his/her ability to make a wise choice.
It is the rare person who can leave all their personal values and beliefs out of a business decision.
A wise sales person will attempt to learn the philosophical make up of a procurement person before entering into negotiation. In the course of "small talk" discussions it is often possible to pick up clues as to the conservatism or aggressiveness of an individual. Knowing this will be of assistance when the negotiations begin.
In conclusion, I think it is unrelaistic to expect ourselves to have completely different reactions at work and at home. So unless you have a buying habit that completely undermines your organization's best interests (like being overly spontaneous with your choices) I don't think the goal is to change. Rather, know yourself so that you recognize your reactions for what they are and take the time to try to gain some objectivity on the situation. You can start by looking at your personal decisions and asking yourself, "What kind of buyer am I?"