It’s funny how coincidences happen.

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Yesterday, I posted about the new internal employee handbook that we are going to debut tomorrow. I accidentally left out one of the most important (and purchasing and supply management-related) excerpts.

Then I had a phone conversation that reminded me how important this excerpt is.

Among the sales community, purchasing professionals generally have a bad reputation. We’re tough – actually, make that rude – negotiators to them. We’re jerks is what they basically think.

Well, some of us are. Some are stuck in that 1970’s mentality that the ruder you are, the better deal you’ll get. But, personally, I’ve found that the vast majority of us have evolved to the point where we are very professional and do a good job of representing the profession. That doesn’t mean we’re not firm. We’re just sophisticated in our toughness.

But what I have observed is that people who have supplier contact and are not purchasing professionals are exhibiting that “jerk” disposition when speaking with suppliers.

The phone call I had was with an HR-type charged by his VP of Purchasing to specifically research Next Level Purchasing’s purchasing certification. I have to say that the call involved some of the rudest treatment I’ve ever received. I was spoken over. What I said was belittled. I was told that my counterpart had to go before I finished what I was saying in response to him. And, of course, I got the it-makes-me-feel-like-a-real-man-to-say-this “we’ll get it from someone else.”

(Uh, sorry. We’re not K-mart. A purchasing certification isn’t a roll of toilet paper available at a fine retailer near you.)

Now, keep in mind that I simply answered this guy’s questions and told him what he said he needed to know, which apparently was different than what he wanted. I don’t pick fights, you know?

But beyond taking personal umbrage at this behavior, I thought: how is this guy doing justice for his internal customer? He works for a publicly-held company – is he serving his investors properly?

After all, the SPSM Certification isn’t just about earning a certificate and getting approval to use credentials after your name. It is about making an impact on the bottom line. SPSM’s make their companies more profitable. Our success stories attest to that fact.

So this guy’s personal “style” may be standing in the way of his company making an insanely profitable investment. Millions of dollars of potential cost savings could be forgone due to his behavior.

In addition, he is representing his company to the business community and shaping its reputation. I won’t name the company here because this guy is probably one “loose cannon,” but it would be easy to do some harm to his company’s reputation.

It is executive management’s job to codify how individuals are expected to represent the company, even in communications with suppliers. Our employee handbook does that.

Additionally, when purchasing or supplier contact is decentralized, it is the purchasing and supply management department’s job to educate its internal customers about proper ways to communicate with suppliers. As much as this guy’s personality grated on me, he may have been left to his own devices to figure out how to communicate with suppliers and 1970’s-style purchasing may have been the only method he ever heard of.

So I’ll close this post with an excerpt from the “External Relationships” section of our employee handbook. I think that every CEO should insist on this type of verbiage being included in their own handbook or policy manual.

The reputation of the company depends on this type of guidance.

Customer Relationships
Our students, prospective students, and their employers are valued by Next Level Purchasing, Inc. as a company. Their faith in our ability to deliver gives all Next Level Purchasing, Inc. employees the opportunity to have rewarding careers. This fact should be remembered in all interactions with them. It is our collective goal to delight them with the high quality of service that we provide. Next Level Purchasing, Inc. wants to stand out as a company that provides excellent service in a business world that sorely lacks it.

Supplier Relationships
Our suppliers help us reach our goals and delight our students by providing goods and services that we are unable to cost effectively provide with our own resources. All suppliers and prospective suppliers should be treated with professionalism and respect because all external interactions affect the perception of Next Level Purchasing, Inc. in the business community. Employees can be firm, effective negotiators without sacrificing professionalism or respect for suppliers.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
Struggling To Have A Rewarding Purchasing Career?
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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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