OK. I have another comment about the book, “Selling To Big Companies.”

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On page 100, Jill Konrath writes, “With so many possible entry points into a big company, many sellers make the mistake of going to the purchasing or human resources (HR) departments first. This is a fatal error. Let me repeat that. This is a fatal error. The purchasing folks are looking for the best possible pricing for a very specific solution. Despite all your best efforts to bring value and be consultative, they will force you into competing on price alone.”


I have several thoughts about this excerpt, in no particular order.

1. Circumventing the purchasing department or a standard purchasing process is called “back door selling.” Purchasing departments and companies hate back door selling. In fact, some corporate policies prohibit back door selling and may ban suppliers that engage in back door selling.

2. At first, I was offended. Professional purchasers consider more than just price. Of course, I help teach that, so maybe not all purchasers have previously learned world-class supplier selection criteria and practices. So I’m not offended.

3. Yes, professional purchasers do select suppliers based on price alone. But this isn’t necessarily because they are uneducated or that they have some fault. A lot of suppliers just cannot communicate how the non-price variables of their offering can contribute to the success of our organizations. So you have better quality? What does that mean to me in terms of profit per year? What financial advantage in terms of my company’s profit does your better quality mean? If you, as a seller, cannot communicate the measurable financial benefits of your offering, don’t expect it to be the buyer’s job to figure it out on your behalf.

So, I’m not upset about the characterization of purchasers. But teaching back door selling as the best approach?

I’m not sure that’s the best idea with the amount of control (i.e., ability to ban a supplier from future business) that purchasing departments have.

Charles Dominick, SPSM
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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