Why you need to understand procurement professionals better.

Have you ever really sat down and thought about some of the pressures your customers are facing, particularly if a key part of their job involves the procurement function? Come to that, do you treat them like proper human beings or just ‘problems’ to be overcome or sold to?


If you don’t, not only are you being unprofessional, but you are genuinely missing out on sales opportunities. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment – and see how you, if you were buying, would like some of these scenarios:


1. Day after day you meet with salespeople who range from wonderful to downright obnoxious.

Unfortunately, many salespeople have egos the size of a small country and think you are just some sort of obstacle to be ‘got round’. So you have to spend your working day talking to arrogant, self-centred and just plain unpleasant people. And that’s not taking into account the nervous ones who don’t know what they are talking about. The trouble is, you can’t always get rid of them, because they might actually be selling you something that could be useful.

2. Of course the flip side of that is the amount of time you waste on no-hopers…

These are the salespeople who haven’t done their homework properly and are never going to be able to help you in a million years, but they were sure they could, so you agreed to see them. That’s an hour of your life you are never going to get back again.


3. Poor presentation skills.

Just how many PowerPoint presentations, flip chart presentations, brochures and being talked ‘at’ can you cope with? It’s even worse when you know that it’s the same old presentation that’s been rolled out to 100 other customers without any effort to personalise it to you. The icing on the cake is the salesperson who can’t speak properly – the mumbler, the techno-jargon lover, the shouter, the rambler (who seems to think it’s a social call and doesn’t realise that you might actually be busy) or just someone who can’t string together a coherent sentence.


4. Personal Hygiene 

It’s summer, you have an appointment with a rep who will be in the car a lot. They will sweat – then you are going to be in an enclosed space with them. So pray they use the air con. And deodorant. Lots of it. No one ever bought something just to prevent themselves being suffocated, but you don’t want to die proving the point. Nasty.


5. Their product is always the best on the market

Every sales person says the same thing, but with a slight variation. So actually, the chances are that it’s really not the best one. Also, just saying it doesn’t make it true. Read “Why you shouldn’t say you are The Best”.


6. Not taking the trouble to find out what is important

As you might genuinely be in a position to purchase from these salespeople, it’s amazing how little time they spend NOT asking you what you want. You have lots you can tell them and indeed, would like to tell them, but they’ve gone into autopilot telling you all about their wonderful widget (or whatever it is). You are slightly losing the will to live.


7. Not asking for the sale

This might sound weird right, but these people are supposed to be able to sell for a living. So why on earth do they go to all this trouble to see you, find common ground, propose a solution and then just not ask for the sale. The biggest mystery of all.


So next time you are selling, and you make contact with someone who is in a position to buy from you, please remember that good manners, preparation and consideration go a long way to getting a sale. They have done you the courtesy of giving you a chunk of their day, so make sure you appreciate that – I’m sure they will.


Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

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