Sales reps ‘treated like commodities’

26 February 2010

26 February 2010 | Jake Kanter

Global sales executives have lambasted buyers for treating them “like commodities”, according to a study.

More than 75 per cent of those surveyed by consultancy Huthwaite International ahead of the Strategic Account Management Association conference next week said they are “treated like a commodity,” adding that procurement’s unflinching focus on costs was their biggest barrier to building effective relationships with customers.

The respondents, including representatives from some of the world’s biggest companies, added that aggressive negotiations and a lack of category understanding were also significant stumbling blocks.

Andrew Moorhouse, research consultant at Huthwaite International, said sales executives were frustrated at not getting enough exposure to stakeholders and senior management. Instead, going through procurement channels meant they were “commoditised” and defined only on cost.

However, Moorhouse told SM that this suits many purchasers. “Unless they are a top-tier supplier, procurement might want them to feel like commodities to get the best possible price.”

The survey of 92 people also found that sales people have a poor understanding of the strategic objectives of CPOs, the level of influence buying departments have and how purchasing determines strategic suppliers.


Birmingham, West Midlands
HS2 Ltd
London (Greater)
£50,800 plus up to £10,000 Recruitment Retention Allowance
House of Lords
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