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How to Sell to Procurement with Tom Williams, Ep #209 

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How do you sell to someone in procurement? Why is it important for a salesperson to understand their decision-making process? Tom Williams—sales consultant and author of Buyer-Centered Selling—believes that understanding the mind of procurement is a game-changer. It’s a surefire way to transform the way you sell. In this episode of Negotiations Ninja, we take a deep-dive into the mind of a procurement professional. In doing so, you’ll better understand how to sell to them. Don’t miss it!


Outline of This Episode

  • [1:14] More about Tom Williams
  • [2:03] What is Buyer-Centered Selling?
  • [3:48] The procurement process
  • [10:06] Where a salesperson fits in the process
  • [12:46] The discovery process is continual
  • [19:54] How to revive stalled deals
  • [26:15] The architecture of a close
  • [31:19] How to connect with Tom

The concept of buyer-centered selling

When we think about buyer-centered selling, Tom points out that it’s both a mindset and a strategy. It’s about improving your current state through collaboration. How is it different from selling in the past? Tom notes that selling of the past was product-centered, focused on features and benefits. They’d follow a process to try and uncover customer needs and pounce with product knowledge and information to get them to buy.

But a buyer-centric approach is about understanding how buyers buy. You have to know the psychology and steps they take to make an informed buying decision. How are they effectively making a decision?

The procurement process

A lot of people in B2B sales don’t understand that buyers have a process that they’re bound to go through.

If a buyer is buying a tech product, they may only buy it every 5–7 years. Others may have never purchased what you’re selling before. You need to help them do that by walking them through questions like this:

  • What are the steps they need to take?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • How do we make an informed decision?
  • How do we mitigate risk downstream?
  • What are the concerns they should have?

In large enterprise-level companies, procurement or strategic purchasing are often working with a very rigid process that you must follow to get a purchase order. Those new to the B2B world don’t know there are rules you have to play within, rules you can bend, and rules you can break.

Procurement within an organization

Why do you need to understand where the company is at in terms of maturity in its procurement journey?

If you look at procurement, they provide input to the organization in five main areas:

  • Cost Savings
  • Compliance
  • Risk Management
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability

Procurement has gotten a seat at the C-Suite table because they can impact many areas of the company. Salespeople need to understand that. Secondly, every dollar that procurement people save drops straight through the bottom line.

Other questions to consider: How mature is the procurement function? What does the organizational structure look like? Is it broken down into purchasing, procurement, or strategic sourcing? What are the key performance indicators that they’re being measured by? Those are tied back to organizational priorities.

What’s important to your buyer?

Procurement rarely uses any of the products or services you’re selling—they’re buying it for someone else. So you have to keep in mind that they’re buying for an internal customer they’re trying to satisfy. Sometimes sustainability, quality, innovation, or delivery are more important than price.

Sometimes—especially in industrial companies—the determining factor may be the quality or the service level. It may be the safety of the people performing the service. It may be the governance procedures that you have in place. Procurement’s role is to influence your decision. They likely won’t tell you what the most important thing is, but it should come out in the discovery process.

To learn more about the discovery process, how to stand out as a salesperson, and how to revive a stalled deal—listen to the whole episode!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Tom Williams

Connect With Mark

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