Purchasing Departments: Don’t treat them as gatekeepers
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Purchasing Departments: Don’t treat them as gatekeepers

Do you view folks in purchasing departments as little more than glorified gatekeepers holding you back from reaching the “real” buyer? Do you allow your ego to tell you that you are smarter than they are?

That attitude – while surprisingly commonplace – is deadly, says sales guru Mark Hunter. Keep two key points in mind:

  • Professional buyers see far more salespeople in the course of a week or month than you realize. They put up those barriers because they’ve seen every game played and by some pretty pathetic salespeople.
  • The buying community is really quite smart. They do their job well. If they didn’t, would their company keep them?

It may be painful to hear, but you might not be as smart as you think you are, and the latest trick to “get past Purchasing” probably isn’t as revolutionary as you believe it is. It more than likely isn’t going to equip you to blast through barriers the purchasing department has in place.

The #1 rule
The number-one thing you can do when dealing with professional buyers and purchasing departments is to be yourself and be positive.

A buyer will see right through you if you’re not being yourself. They’ll also see right through you if you’re not genuinely showing interest in their concerns and needs – not just the company’s or end-users, but the things that matter to them as buyers. And the consequences you’ll face will be severe.

Many times when a professional buyer decides to cut you off, they may not tell you right away – they may leave you hanging in the wind for days, weeks or even months. They may do this just to see how you’re going to respond. More likely, it’s to continue to gain information from you they can then use to negotiate a better package with your competitor.

When a professional buyer does this, they’re doing their job. Some sellers may think they’re being stupid, because they’re not being more forthcoming. Here’s where a salesperson (who thinks he/she is smarter) can slip up. Often they start to play bullying games back with the buyer.

One obvious example: Trying to go around the buyer or opening up other doors. All this does is further alienate the buyer. And you will never “get past” a buyer you’ve ticked off. After all, they have the home-field advantage and get to write the rules, not you.

Don’t play games
You can thrive with buyers and purchasing departments if you follow these simple approaches: Be yourself, be professional, and be engaged in genuinely wanting to help the buyer and the prospect.

And don’t walk around telling people you care about them and that you are concerned about helping them. You must walk the talk.

The salespeople who treat Purchasing as buyers rather than barriers will let it come out in their actions day in and day out. And just like other buyers, Purchasing folks will respond when you engage with them and address their needs.

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