After many years of senior commercial experience, on both sides of the table, I’ve seen most types of sales approach in action. Despite the fact that buyers and sellers have much in common – such as the desire to transact with the right people, avoid abortive effort and offer/achieve the most compelling proposal – they typically approach negotiations from completely different perspectives.
The sales person will be focusing on making a good impression and overcoming potential objections. The ‘client’ (i.e. the person who has the need and budget authority) will be concentrating on meeting their needs at a price they can afford and the procurement professional (if involved) will be trying to secure the lowest overall deal, or potentially best value, depending on the prevailing culture.
Ultimately everyone wants the same thing, which is for their organisation and/or clients to make sound commercial decisions, but a number of structural, professional and personal factors may obscure this objective. So long as everyone blindly pursues their own agenda, what hope is there of halting the game and saving everyone’s time and energy?
Sellers of products and services are slowly coming round to this way of thinking; increasing pressure in the market means they have to adapt and in some cases even ‘unlearn’ their established methods to survive. But until very recently, buyers have not been expected to change. Not only does this prolong the game, but it also prevents buyers from achieving best value.
Put simply, becoming a better customer increases the likelihood that the products or services acquired will be the right ones, at the right price, at the right time, from the right people. Everyone benefits.
Can this be taught?
At 100% Effective we are experts in helping our clients achieve best value for money. We do this through training, coaching and consultancy, based on the principles of Lean Six Sigma – i.e. we always speak with data, everything we do is practical and results driven, and our goal is to help clients become self sufficient as quickly as possible.
I’ve taken my experience of the buying and selling process, and developed a training specifically focusing on helping individuals and organisations to become better customers.
Supply Management Magazine, for example, recently asked me to write a feature article explaining what procurement functions in particular can do to increase their organisation’s attractiveness as a customer. Published this month, it illustrates how 100% Effective are helping buyers to work with, not against, suppliers.
Of course it is not just procurement professionals that should be mindful of how their organisation is perceived by external suppliers. At any time during the buying process or the life of a contract literally anyone can potentially have an impact, often unwittingly.
The first step is to realise what’s happening, which can be very difficult if viewed through a parochial lens. Then realising the genuine value that being a better customer can bring is step two, and we work through concrete examples as part of the training.
So stop and think for a moment….would you want to sell to your organisation?
Find out more
I’d also be really interested to hear your opinion on the buyer-seller dynamic and whether there’s further scope to centre the process around value, rather than just price, from a mutually beneficial standpoint. Post your feedback in the comments box below or reach out to us on Twitter (@100pceffective) and we’ll do our best to get back to you.