15 September 2008 | Paul Snell
More than a quarter of buyers have purchased goods or services as a result of a cold call, proving that unsolicited approaches from suppliers are not always unsuccessful. However, most buyers still do not appreciate the practice.
According to the latest SM100 poll, 29 per cent of buyers have bought something for work from a supplier who has called out of the blue, but 71 per cent never have.Of the buyers that had made a purchase as a result of a cold call, most said it was not immediate but the supplier formed part of a later sourcing exercise and was eventually successful.
Some buyers said cold calls were a form of "market intelligence" and a good way to expand their supplier base.
"The problem with cold calls is they can distract a buyer from their strategic
focus and become an irritant," said Gareth Hughes, head of non-inventory purchasing at Bupa.
"That said, you can gain useful market intelligence from vendors. Ignoring the cold call isn't the answer; channelling it is."
He added the firm has a website allowing suppliers to register their interest in future opportunities and providing information about policy and process. Other buyers mentioned similar schemes, such as databases or spreadsheets that record vendor details to be used later.
Some buyers warned against ignoring cold calls completely as it could mean missing out on new ideas. But they also advised purchasers to carry out complete due diligence to avoid scams.
The majority of buyers were warmer to less obtrusive methods of contact such as e-mail or post but said cold calls in person were the most off-putting.
Buyers said recruitment firms and those selling commodities were notorious for employing the cold-call approach.
And many respondents were deterred by suppliers who failed to do their research - and didn't even know what the target company bought.