Sales Training Tip #376: Purchasing Department Shuffle

The buyer you work with today may be gone tomorrow.  Are you prepared? You can be.

Purchasing departments are continuing to upgrade their talent and their level of professionalism and one of the ways many departments are doing this is by rotating buyers between departments.  Purchasing departments are doing this for several reasons. One is to give their buyers more experience designed to help them develop and implement new ideas. A second reason is to prevent buyers from becoming complacent or lax in terms of how they deal with a particular company or vendor. The third reason is a financial control and integrity reason — companies want to prevent any particular vendor and buyer from developing too close of a relationship that could result in personal gain for one or both people.

It is important to respect purchasing departments for these controls, as they are in place solely to help them do their jobs in the best manner possible.  For you, the salesperson, what it means is it is essential to develop relationships with everyone in the purchasing department regardless of whether you are currently working with them.

I have even seen purchasing departments rotate administrative assistants and other staff on a regular basis to prevent a vendor/assistant relationship from becoming close enough to potentially create conflict.

Be observant anytime you’re visiting the purchasing department of your customers. Learn the names of your buyer’s peers. Greet them and let them get to know you.  Due to your workload and their workload, it might not be possible to develop any type of a relationship with these people, but that should not stop you from at least being able to know them professionally and for them to know who you are.

If you are taking the time to work with your buyer and help them do their job, then most likely your name is coming up in their staff meetings.  This is another way you can build your awareness with others in the department without physically meeting everyone.  Finally, be sure to keep the names of each person in a buying department in your CRM system. Track everyone the same way you track your immediate buyer — this way when a change is made, you will be that much further ahead.

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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