After 15 years on the front line in procurement, the common mistakes suppliers and their sales people make when dealing with buyers continue to amaze me.
Here are the top five mistakes that suppliers and their sales teams should avoid if they are to win over buyers.
1. Get our names right! I have lost track of the amount of times I have been called William when people are sending me e-mails, letters or phoning me. This is especially annoying when I have first sent that person an email with my full name - James Williams (with an S) - on the signature. If a supplier cannot get such a basic thing right, I am not going to trust them with meeting the needs of my stakeholder, or with my reputation in selecting the best suppliers.
2. Lying. Yes, there may be a fine line between a sales exaggeration and a lie, but we buyers are not stupid and we do our research. “Our prices cannot be beaten.” Really? A quick benchmark exercise and I have found your prices to be uncompetitive! What else are you lying about? Your level of service?
3. Telling us what we want to hear or over-promising and under-delivering. “I promise the goods will be with you tomorrow.” Three days later, and it is the buyer who has to take the flack from the production team. If you gave us the real answer we could have informed production to alter its schedules to avoid a line stop.
4. The cold shoulder. OK, you may not have the answer but ignoring our calls and emails will not solve it. You will just end up with a very annoyed buyer with a long memory the next time we do make contact. Just take the call, give an update and keep us informed.
5. Not listening to what we are saying. There is a reason we are telling you these things, it is not just to give you a chance to take a breath before your next sales spell. If we say we are looking for only blue pens we are not interested in red ones even if they are on offer.
☛ James Williams (with an S - potential suppliers take note!) is a partner at Optimus Business Solutions