In my work as a salesperson and as a consultant, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with professional buyers.

While many of you may think of them as the nemesis of the sales world, they actually can be a key part of your ability to score sustained profits.

Here are 3 things you must know when selling to purchasing departments:

1. Your buyer is not an idiot.

Nearly all professional buyers have been doing their jobs long enough that they know the ins and outs of how salespeople work.  And just like you, they have a job to do.

So when you interact with them, demonstrating respect is vitally important.   Be positive and take a genuine interest in their business and their concerns.

2. Your buyer is not an island.

In other words, get to know other people in the department.  Seek to understand who the end user is of what you sell.  The more you can network and build relationships, the better equipped you’ll be to proactively anticipate your buyer’s needs.

Another reason it’s important to network with buyers and their colleagues is because buyers move around from company to company.

If you carry yourself with integrity with the purchasing department at one company, it’s likely you could be dealing with those same individuals when they move on to another company — and have to make decisions about which vendors to use.

3. Buyers want to know how you’ll respond to the proverbial curve ball.

Sometimes buyers will put off making a decision or will request variations in the order, because they want to see how you are going to respond over the long haul.

Now before you start thinking that I’m saying you have to cave to pressures, hear me out.

I’m not encouraging you to compromise your pricing or to rush in with lots of concessions.  Rather, I’m stressing the importance of maintaining your stance with confidence and respect in the face of what feels like a buyer jerking you around.  They deal with salespeople all the time and they want to discern which ones are quality and which ones are unpredictable.

You also need to remember that sometimes a buyer is delaying because critical challenges have come up on their end.  Stay the course with asking good questions to uncover their needs and timeframes.

While there are many other insights on successfully selling to purchasing departments, these are 3 that I think are absolutely vital!

Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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