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 for a salesperson. 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.
A few vital points to keep in mind when dealing with a purchasing department:
- Low price may appear to be what they are after, but if they buy something that’s cheap but doesn’t work, then it’s suddenly anything but a “cheap” item. If it doesn’t work, they now have to replace it. In doing so, they are stuck with a double-cost. Low price is really secondary to the performance of the item they are buying.
- Rarely does the purchasing department have huge amounts of power in a company. This means they’re not at the top of the food-chain. As a result, they can’t afford to upset those above them. Although they may harass you to lower your price, the last thing they want to do is be harassed by others in the company for not buying what those people wanted them to buy in the first place. In other words, purchasing agents will put up a good fight on the surface, but in the end, they can’t afford to upset anyone in the company – regardless of how much money they think they can save.
- Purchasing agents may say they must have a lower price, but in reality their goal is really to save “x” amount of money – and it doesn’t necessarily have to come from you. Purchasing agents will always pick on the salespeople who appear to be the weakest and most vulnerable. This only makes sense, as they are simply trying to manage their time. Therefore, they will secure the savings they need from whomever they believe will give it to them with the least amount of hassle.
Don’t hesitate to call a purchasing agent’s bluff. 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.