I hope that you have enjoyed the article “How Purchasing Can Leverage Sales Tactics.”

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Many times when I mention that purchasing professionals can learn from sales professionals, I elicit a reaction of skepticism.  Usually, it is either because the person with whom I am speaking thinks that the professions are opposite or that they think that, because they are both participants in a mutual transaction, that purchasing professionals already understand sales.

But there are some significant qualities that the best sales people have that average purchasing people could use.  The article illustrates that, but I want to generalize the concept to explain it further.

In purchasing, there are all types of personalities.  But the increasingly common personality trait of purchasing professionals today is that we are very analytical.  We tend to think very logically.  We’re very serious in business situations.  Emotion doesn’t factor into our work very often.

That serves us well in many cases.  In some cases, though, it doesn’t.

In some cases, I think that purchasing professionals need to be more emotional.  No, I don’t mean crying on the job when a negotiation doesn’t go your way.  I mean harnessing emotion in order to be persuasive in business situations.

An oft-repeated mantra in sales training goes something like this:  “People buy on emotion then justify their purchase with logic.”  Let’s twist this so it makes sense in purchasing.

In the article, I wrote that the “fact that [complying with policies] is ‘good for the organization’ isn’t very motivational. To be persuasive, you have to answer the question ‘what’s in it for them?’”  As a purchasing professional attempting to get an internal customer to comply with a policy, you need to appeal to their emotions.  You have to make them want to comply, almost for a selfish (but, of course, ethical) reason.

One idea that I used as a purchasing professional at a former employer was to measure compliance and rank departments’ compliance.  No department head wanted his or her department to be last, or even lower than someone they considered a peer.  This motivated them to ensure purchasing policy compliance much moreso than telling them that compliance was “good for the organization.”  Their emotions were appealed to, much the way a good sales professional appeals to the emotions of a prospective customer.

So, the next time you need to persuade someone in your purchasing position – whether it be in a negotiation with a supplier or a collaborative meeting with an internal customer – ask yourself how you can affect the emotions of the other party in order to be persuasive.  It is a sales skill that more purchasing professionals should master.

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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