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How to Sell to Procurement  

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Salespeople. The word itself tends to bring a collective negative reaction—at least a slight eye roll, if not an outright groan. There is no debating that selling is tough, and doing it well is an art form of sorts.  

And I’m not the only one who knows this, as the question of how to sell to procurement, in particular, has been quite the hot topic inside the Procurement Foundry community for years now. I can think of multiple chats on our forum that focused on improving these sales skills, particularly when approaching us, procurement, to get the deal done. 

Let’s face it: Getting to yes is no easy feat. Why? The simple answer is that procurement hates being sold to, and worse still, vendors have no idea how to do it.  

Before you get discouraged, recognize that sales teams from all industries have difficulty selling to procurement so much that procurement ends up getting a bad reputation. The good news is that vendors can do things to make their sales pitch sing. 

How to Sell to Procurement 101 – Understand What is Needed 

Vendors must understand the needs of those they’re trying to sell to. After all, unless you know what your buyer is looking for, you will have a tough road ahead of you when trying to make whatever you are selling appeal to them. 

Another thing to keep in mind is how you approach procurement. The simple fact is that procurement doesn’t like to feel like they’re being sold to.  

Don’t just barge in with your fancy slide decks and a slick presentation without first doing your due diligence and understanding what is needed on their end. Let me reiterate for good measure: Remember, it’s not about you. Instead, it’s about what you can do for your vendors—connecting them with (selling to them) what they need and are looking for. 

Lastly, make the process easy. This may seem like a given, but you might be surprised, as research from a Gartner study found that 77% of B2B buyers described their latest purchase as being “very complex or difficult.”  

We’ve already discussed above how most procurement already is leery of dealing with sales, so why compound their dread by making the dealings difficult? Set yourself apart as a seller who makes the process easy—seamless, even—and you will be shocked to see how well procurement responds. 

Prove Your Solution’s ROI 

Do yourself a favor—and save both you and procurement the headache—by doing your research and coming prepared when making your pitch. And what would this preparation entail? Hard numbers prove your product is worth their investment.  

You are answering the age-old question: “What’s in it for me?” Overall, vendors need to make sure to show ROI. No fancy slide decks are necessary if the solution works.  

Just make sure the business case is airtight as you give your spiel. Bringing stats is always a helpful and powerful tool of persuasion, too, because numbers never lie. 

Understand Relationship Building With the Buyer  

As eluded to above, the buyer needs to know that they—and their needs—are of paramount importance in this deal. There’s a saying that goes, “Sellers win when buyers win,” and I can’t stress the truth of this statement enough.  

A similar saying is often said of marriages: “Happy wife, happy life,” and this same spirit applies to the relationship built between sales and procurement. In this business “marriage,” you are making a serious pact and commitment to the buyer to bring your best to the table, also, to put them and their needs firsts.  

An excellent article you can check out echoes this sentiment of how adopting a buyer-first philosophy is critical for success and winning results in sales to procurement. It is aptly titled “The Key to Selling Procurement,” as it has much truth and a fresh perspective that can help take your sales pitch to the next level. 

To learn even more about how to effectively work with procurement, you can also check out our blog. And as you move forward, remember that we at Procurement Foundry are here to support you on your procurement journey. 

By Michael Cadieux

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