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Common Questions and Answers
One of the most difficult parts of a salesperson’s job is dealing with purchasing departments.
Whether you are a new salesperson or a seasoned veteran, you likely will agree that dealing with a purchasing department can create a tremendous amount of stress. Some salespeople would even say these interactions sap their sales motivation — and deliver a blow to their selling skills — more than anything else.
I say, though, that unless you are truly unprepared, there’s no reason for anyone to fear dealing with a purchasing department.
A purchasing department is nothing more than a group of individuals assembled for the sole purpose of trying to save money for their company. The key for you as the salesperson to remember is that even though the purchasing department’s number one objective is to save money, this doesn’t mean they are out to attack you on price.
Purchasing departments view their role as the supply-chain managers. It is their job to ensure the company does what it is supposed to do in an efficient manner that requires as little capital as possible. What this means is very simple: The purchasing department’s job is much more than beating up salespeople.
Granted, many purchasing agents do enjoy the thrill of securing a lower price, but that’s no different than you. As a salesperson, you enjoy the thrill of securing a new sale. Accept the fact that the purchasing agent is doing nothing more than what they are supposed to do.
Purchasing agents love to posture themselves with salespeople as if they control the salesperson’s career. All they are really doing is seeing how far they can push you. Until you stand up to them and push back, they’ll keep pushing you to get additional benefits and lower prices.
When a purchasing agent demands a lower price, the only thing they’re doing is going with the demand they know works the best since they know there is almost always flexibility in pricing. It’s the strength and confidence of you the salesperson that is going to be the best indicator as to whether or not they’ll be successful in pushing you to lower your price.
Purchasing agents love to bluff people by saying they will buy from one of your competitors if you don’t lower your price. This actually happens far less than salespeople realize. Upon hearing the threat of going to another supplier, most salespeople will cower and give the purchasing agent what they are after. Too bad the only thing the salesperson has done is give up profit. It’s this type of a response that gives salespeople a bad reputation. The entire time the purchasing manager is demanding you lower the price or they will switch, they know full well how expensive switching to a new supplier can be.
About the author
Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. He is also author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.”