How to Win at the Procurement Game

Professional Sales Training on how to win at the procurement game

Sales professionals have met a worthy adversary. The procurement executive — long lauded by companies as a model of efficiency, but by sales interests as a barrier to entry — has increased their stronghold on the purse strings for enterprises worldwide.

But, surprisingly, price is not the only battlefield upon which the procurement pro takes to arms, according to a recent study by the Sales Performance Research Center here at The Brooks Group.

In fact, only 7 percent of the procurement professionals surveyed cited price as the only consideration when making a purchase decision. This puts a decided premium on both tangible and intangible factors around a seller’s offering — transcending simple dollars and cents — in order to make the close.

Understanding how the role of procurement professionals fits into the larger set of a company’s business objectives represents a critical consideration of contemporary sales leaders. Some other findings of our study that support this notion:

Procurement as Gatekeeper: Two-thirds of procurement professionals surveyed indicated they were involved in the buying process from the very beginning — at the point where needs were being identified. This means that “sellers must make connections as early in the buying process as possible — ideally in the Awareness or Consideration stage,” according to SPRC researchers.

The More, the Merrier: Procurement professionals have joined an already crowded decision-making paradigm. Today, multi-person decision-making units have become the standard, with more than half of decision-making units consisting of 1-3 people, and another 34 percent consisting of four or more. With each person motivated differently by the offer, “it’s a sales professional’s job to identify these roles and cater to the wants, needs, and behavior styles of each,” researchers said.

Quality First: As we mentioned earlier, price is rarely the only consideration when a procurement pro is vetting a deal. Conversely, researchers found that certain benefits would actually justify a higher selling price. Vendor transparency would earn richer rewards with 72 percent of procurers; and on-time delivery (66 percent), lack of frustration (66 percent), and low-risk (59 percent) and on-time (59 percent) performance all scored high with procurement pros.

Don’t Play All Your Cards: Discounting should not be your go-to strategy to win the business - at least that’s what researchers say. Fully seven in 10 respondents said they would only ask once or twice for an additional discount. This means you should hold the line, and rely on your skill at “building value and negotiating strategically to avoid lowering the price and sacrificing profit margin,” researchers said.

If your sales team needs to update its understanding of how the procurement paradigm has changed negotiations, please reach out. For over 40 years The Brooks Group has partnered with sales organizations around the globe—helping them to hire, train, coach, and develop salespeople and sales managers to reach maximum performance levels.

Learn sales negotiation skills that protect margins, stop price-cutting competitors, and increase profitability.


Michelle Richardson

Michelle Richardson is the Vice President of Sales Performance Research. In her role, she is responsible for spearheading industry research initiatives, overseeing consulting and diagnostic services, and facilitating ROI measurement processes with partnering organizations. Michelle brings over 25 years of experience in sales and sales effectiveness functions through previously held roles in curriculum design, training implementation, and product development to the Sales Performance Research Center.

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