Win More By Making Procurement Your Ally
Categories: Sales Negotiation
Many salespeople find dealing with Procurement an unpleasant task. While it may be a thorn in the side of your sales process, it’s important to remember you can reframe the experience by effectively managing the value conversation and the important interests of professional buyers. Find ways to make the sales process easier on professional buyers and include them as critical decision makers along the road to a winning deal.
Here’s our top tips for shifting your negotiation approach so you can find success with procurement.
Recognize their tactics
Professional buyers use familiar negotiation tactics because they work. It’s important to remember that the procurement professionals you’re working with have likely been to the same negotiating trainings as you. They’re experienced and they know all the tactics sellers use. They recognize Seller 101 and if they feel they are being manipulated, they’re going to put up walls.
Improve your ability to recognize their tactics. Take the time to prepare for them to the best of your ability. Focus on understanding when they originate in the sales process and how to manage them when they do. Preparing for their tactics can help you expand the conversation and avoid pain points that narrow the negotiation to price too early. This podcast shares 5 key tips for managing the negotiation process with professional buyers and preparing for success. Review it before your upcoming conversations.
Minimize risk to their company and their position
Make procurement your ally by minimizing their perceived risk.
Find success with procurement in your current deals by actively working to determine what’s driving their interests, beyond price. Procurement has to care about more than just price if they want to be effective. It’s your job to find out what else is driving their deal strategy. Determine why they are asking for certain components in the deal. What’s the underlying interest? Once you uncover this interest, you can negotiate with them in a way that aligns the value of your solution with their driving interests. Fortunately, whatever is driving procurement beyond price often has to do with minimizing risk to their business. Remember, they don’t want to make a purchasing mistake. Identifying those risks is often a good place to start.
Approach them as more than just another vendor
Professional buyers often minimize other important decision criteria that they feel may weaken their position in negotiations. Ironically, this self-imposed denial actually makes them a less informed buyer, unable to effectively distinguish between alternatives. If they fall victim to their own tactic, they still have to find a way to justify their purchase recommendation to their internal customer.
The last thing procurement buyers want to do is disappoint the people in their own company. It’s your job to help them satisfy the needs of their internal customers, which means not allowing them to make a bad purchase decision, on behalf of their company. Be more than just a vendor by guiding the professional buyers you’re working with. Get them to a place they may not be able to get to on their own. Remember, everybody is willing to be led, provided they believe that you (and your process) can get them to a place they cannot get to on their own. Earn their trust by showing them you have their best interests in mind. Guide them as a strategic business consultant by showing that you want to understand their business problems and help them choose the right solution for each decision maker they’re purchasing on behalf of.
Help them see the full picture
Do the procurement professionals you’re working with have the big picture in mind, or are they too narrow-sighted on what the right decision for their business looks like?
Ask great questions that get professional buyers to see how the solution expands beyond their point of view and requirements. They often have conflicting metrics that they need to reconcile in deals. For example, procurement may need to lessen long-term contracts, but the organization as a whole may be trying to stabilize sources of supply, while growing the business.
Your buyer has to please multiple people in their own organization. Ensure they know what each critical executive in their organization is looking for in the enterprise-level solution. Control the sale and steer it in your favor by helping your professional buyer build a business case for a solution that meets the needs of their entire enterprise, not just a small subset of the enterprise. When you’ve helped a professional buyer build a business case for a solution that’s right for every decision maker in their business, they’ll see the value in your solution, and validate the need for a premium price.
Help them uncover the critical buying criteria that are important to high-level decision makers in their business. In every opportunity, the critical buying criteria decision makers use to evaluate a solution typically center around these three topics:
- Their before and after scenarios or positive business outcomes of implementing a solution
- Their requirements for a successful solution implementation
- Their metrics for measuring success
Make procurement your ally by helping them build out the necessary criteria for an enterprise-level solution. Find success for their business and yours, by helping them define their criteria in a way that favors your solutions. Your buyer will be actively working to select a solution that meets the needs of their business, while you’re instilling value in a solution that will enable you to charge a premium. A true win-win scenario and one that you can repeat in any deal that involves a professional buyer.
Instill Value in Your Deals, Early and Often
When you approach negotiation as a strategic process based on value, you see that procurement needs to care about more than price if they want to be effective in their position. Positioning value will help them resolve conflicting buying requirements and please the important groups in their own organization. Controlling the sale by influencing decision criteria with your solution's value and differentiation is a skill elite salespeople possess, because they work on it constantly. They hone their craft, just like elite athletes do. We cover these tips and more on The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast. Subscribe today to never miss an episode on a key skill you can use in critical opportunities.
Here’s a relevant episode to start with that covers negotiation FAQs and best practices. Listen now to see what you can apply to your current sales conversations.