The supplier’s lament — Hey! You’re no amateur buyer, right? – part 1

We are pleased to bring you this guest post from Stephen Ashcroft, procurement risk coach at Brian Farrington. Stephen shares his company’s learnings from dealing with ‘unprofessional’ buyers and offers advice on how to manage your bids more effectively.

The professional buyer is alert to developing ideas and solutions. They identify opportunities to deliver enhanced benefits to their business and maintain vigilance on supply market risks. The amateur buyer is locked in their little world, drunk with misplaced power and driven to shut out anything with which they are unfamiliar or which threatens the status quo.

So suppliers, faced with these amateurs, learn how to bypass the buyer, thereby undermining in the longer term his or her position.

As the firm I work for engages with the bidder-side (suppliers, contractors, outsourcers, IT specialists, professional services, of all flavours and hues) we have sought to collate the kind of responses procurement people have provided to their overtures. Here are some typical and depressing statements from the past few months:

  • Send me an e-mail.
  • Put something in writing
  • We only meet existing suppliers.
  • We aren’t interested in new things.
  • Talk to me again in six months’ time
  • I am very busy right now.
  • Who else have you talked to?
  • We tried something like that a few years ago and it didn’t work then.
  • Why are you bothering me?
  • You are wasting your time?
  • I am saying no. Do not contact anyone else in our business.
  • I make the decisions and I don’t want to know.
  • I don’t want it, even if it’s for free.
  • We will make a note.

All this is in sharp contrast to a central London Head of Procurement, who advised us that she reserved half a day a week to personally meet potential suppliers who claimed they had a new product or business solution. She said that the investment of time paid huge dividends and kept her finger on the pulse. This foresight and professional attitude is refreshing.

Can you hear the negatives already?

“I haven’t got the time. She is very lucky and can’t be busy.”

The take-away: An open mind is a distinct asset in procurement – it is a significant personal and business quality in achieving your objectives and key results. In part two we'll set out the key questions to ensure suppliers’ overtures are managed 'effectively' and aligned with your objectives and key results.

10 Questions You Should Ask About Purchasing and Supply Chain Risk Management” is available free to download here along with regular procurement advice delivered straight to your inbox.

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