Sales And Procurement, Racing Toward Each Other


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As sales and marketing professionals, we’re consumed with the change in our professions. Buying and Buyers are changing. Those things we used to do are no longer as impactful.

Many of us are trying to do more of the same, faster. We leverage new technologies, so now we can do things at the speed of light—doesn’t mean they’re the right things, but volumes of activities are up. After all, sales is a numbers game.

We attend lots of conferences with our peers, we read the sale blogs, we talk to, perhaps commiserate with, each other.

Without a doubt, there is a revolutions in our professions and practices.

Almost unknown to us, because we can’t stand talking to them, is similar things are happening in procurement. Perhaps a little quieter—but then I don’t know because I don’t live in procurement, but a revolution nonetheless.

Procurement organizations are being challenged to up their contribution and value to the organizations. Think about what that means. A well run procurement organization already has strong spend management programs in place. They have strong compliance and contract management programs in place.

So if they are being challenged to up the ante–this isn’t going to come from tightening the screws on vendors. It isn’t going to come from squeezing more cost out of suppliers. They have to think of things differently, they have to change their role and contribution to the organization.

Terms like “insight,” brand leadership, value creation start popping up. Smart procurement organizations are realizing there is much more they can get from close relationships with suppliers than just price breaks. Leading procurement organizations are looking to become “Customers Of Choice” with selected suppliers—those that are critical and set themselves apart, those that have differentiated offerings and can help them (procurement and their companies) change their businesses and their relationships with their customers.

So here we are in sales and marketing, struggling to become “Suppliers Of Choice,” and leading procurement professionals are struggling with doing more for their companies, working to become “Customers Of Choice.”

To me, it seems like we are looking at opposite sides of the same coin. It seems with some organizations–just those leading thinkers in procurement, we have an opportunity to work together, solving the same problems.

It seems we have the opportunity to engage procurement executives and talk about buying—not our stuff (at least yet), but talking to them about the revolution that’s occurring in their own organizations.

It seems we have the opportunity to change the way we work and engage, aligning our shared goals and interests, to have a bigger impact on the organizations we serve.

Not every organization is there. But high performing procurement organizations are exploring these issues, they are changing what they do and how they work. Others will follow, as they always do, playing catch up.

It seems we are racing toward each other on a collision course. Rather than having a massive collision, we have an interesting opportunity to engage our procurement colleagues in a collaborative discussion about buying and selling. Give it a try, you might be surprised by what you discover.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Yes, there is a real opportunity for collaboration. I know some procurement executives think like this, and I’ve had some good experiences working with those not just driving for low price, but for the best overall value.

    Unfortunately, just as buyers are known for pushing for lowest price, sellers are known for pitching products, not insight-enabled relationships.

    So while the goals of insight and collaborative solutions *should* be the same, I think the majority of the time buyers and sellers are not racing towards each other at all. Instead, buyers are saying “we don’t need you” and sellers are arming themselves with ever more sophisticated technologies to try to break through buyer defenses.

    How many sales leaders (or sales consultants and software vendors, for that matter) take the time to attend purchasing conferences, to learn what is really going on in buying today?

  2. Bob, sorry for the delay in responding, but you make great points. There’s a tremendous opportunity to better align with Procurement—yet unless we change something, rather than racing toward each other, we will be on divergent courses. An opportunity lost.

    It amazes me how few sales professionals study professional procurement. Few people read their blogs, attend conferences, participate in LinkedIn discussions, etc. Again, a tremendous opportunity to learn.

    Thanks for extending the discussion. Regards, Dave


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