Buyers ‘must sell themselves to suppliers’

11 January 2010

11 January 2010 | Jake Kanter

Salesmanship is the key to securing a competitive advantage in the market, an expert has said.

Procurement coach Neil Deverill told SM purchasers should have a winning mentality to get the best price and resources from vendors at the expense of rivals.

“Procurement in one organisation is competing head to head with procurement at other companies for the same suppliers,” he said. 

“Price is important, but you’re also competing for know-how from those suppliers, competing for capacity, competing for the A-team of engineers or specialists to work for your organisation.”

Deverill, who has held senior purchasing roles at Anglo American and Philips, said buyers had to discover what vendors want from customers to secure the edge. “You have to look at the market, find out the key suppliers and decide what they want from clients, then you have to make your organisation become attractive to those suppliers.”

He argued it is important to prevent staff asking “dumb questions” of suppliers, ensure the finance department is settling bills promptly and work with marketing to “polish the image, behaviour and messages” the organisation is projecting to vendors.

“Unless you cause this to happen, it won’t happen and you won’t be a customer of choice - you will be picked off by suppliers,” Deverill said.

* A full interview with Deverill will be published in the 21 January 2010 issue of SM.

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