While you may work primarily with one buyer in a purchasing department, you would be wise to educate yourself on the other key players in the department.  Want to know why? Because they travel in packs!

No, I’m not being funny. It’s the simple truth.  Buyers rarely work in a vacuum. Only in the smallest of companies will there be only one buyer.  Typically, buyers rotate among positions within the buying department. At the minimum, they interact with each other due to how their department is viewed within the larger company for which they work.

Buyers by nature are many times at odds with other departments in the company, with the exception of finance. Therefore, it’s not unusual for a buying team to have a high degree of interaction with one another — both professionally to exchange information and personally in the spirit of creating a team environment.

The more you can develop a relationship with others in the department, the better off you’re going to be. It will not only give you an advantage in knowing who your next buyer might be, but also will help make sure that if you or your company come up in a discussion among the buyers, what is shared about you will be positive.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with numerous buying departments. It is not uncommon to hear stories about how they will either intentionally or unintentionally start talking about a vendor/supplier in a meeting — many times in a manner that is less than flattering to the salesperson.  I’m not saying that buyers love trash-talking about others. No, they don’t at all. It is just that on far too many occasions, a vendor/supplier will wind up either doing something or not doing something that the buyer was expecting. In so doing, the vendor/supplier has created an additional layer of issues that the buyer and possibly the entire company now have to face.

By developing relationships with as many people as possible in the purchasing department, you’re actually “building equity” to help you build your business in the months and years to come.  Build such relationships with integrity and authenticity. You won’t regret the positive impact it will have for you… and for them.

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

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