Sometimes, us bloggers get so focused on strategic purchasing topics that we underserve buyers in the trenches – those men and women who work hard at ensuring that every critical delivery is on time no matter what crazy circumstances pop up. When I reflect on this work that buyers in the trenches do – the work that I did early in my purchasing career – it is clear that “tactical vs. strategic purchasing” is not synonymous with “unimportant vs. important purchasing.”
Tactical purchasing activities, like day-to-day communications with suppliers, are important. You don’t want a purchasing department to be a paper-pushing department, but some of the work in the trenches can be quite critical to the successful operation of a company.
With that in mind, I’ll give a quick tip today for buyers in the trenches. I thought of this when my wife called a utility company, failed to achieve the desired result, and I had to place a second call to them to get what we wanted.
Here’s the tip: “Don’t allow the conversation to end until you hear what you want to hear.”
Whether it is working with a supplier to deliver an item by a deadline of yours, getting a supplier to honor a warranty, getting a re-stocking fee waived, or any similar, reasonable, short-time-horizon request, the supplier usually has the flexibility to take care of you. You may need to speak with a higher-level person, but the flexibility is usually there. Don’t take no for an answer.
Persistence goes a long way towards success when you’re in the trenches of purchasing. Plus, it shows management the tenacity they are looking for in higher-level purchasing positions that involve broader negotiations.
Don’t allow the conversation to end until you hear what you want to hear.
As a side note, I won’t be teaching this technique to my children until they are adults (however, they seem innately know to try this 😉 )!
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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