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Decentralize out of control purchasing to now controlled centralized purchasing

"Bellwether has eliminated the paper in purchasing and allowed us go from decentralized out of control purchasing to centralized purchasing and invoice processing. This has reduced cost and provided us a clear picture of accruals."

Ben Belflower, Reporting & Analysis Manager, Aramark

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What Every Purchasing Manager Can Learn from the Sales Team

Have you ever considered the personality or skills of a sales manager versus a purchasing manager? Did we lose you already? Maybe you are asking yourself what does a sales superstar have to do with the purchasing department – there couldn’t be two positions further from each other. If you stop to think, there are actually quite a few similarities; areas that every purchasing manager can learn from sales. This is because procurement often leads to the development or strengthening of several key skills needed in the world of management. The ability to keep oneself motivated, the ability to maintain structure and organization skills, and finally, the ability to prioritize and focus on tasks at hand are shared by top salespeople and procurement managers alike.

Firstly, a salesman has to be driven. One day you’ll find that sales are up and business is going well. Another, you may worked all day, beating the pavement, dialing the phone, and haven’t gotten a single sale. A good salesman cannot give up when it appears that a sale is unsuccessful or when times are tough. That internal drive is what makes a salesperson successful. They have a sense of urgency that they will get the job done no matter what setbacks occur or hurdles they have to jump.

A purchasing manager must be driven as well. They know that the inner workings of the business rely directly upon how well they do their job. A lazy manager without drive will eventually cost your company.  

Secondly, a good salesman will be structured. He will have a commanding knowledge of the product or service being presented. He will be able to adequately explain a product or service to the customer in an easy to follow manner. He must be organized in order to present the information to a customer. A disorganized presentation will leave the customer feeling confused and no matter how great the product or service, failure to stay organized will risk losing the sale.

A purchasing manager must also be structured. Using a paper based system can trip up even the most organized and structured purchasing manager. A cloud-based purchasing software will go a long way toward helping get and stay organized.

Thirdly, a good salesman will have laser focus on the task at hand. A salesman cannot be distracted with tasks less important than the sale at hand. He must learn to prioritize every function and every activity. Prioritizing is an important skill for salespeople because there will always several things to think about. Focusing all efforts on finding leads will never result in sales. Focusing all efforts on getting the sale means once that is over, whether they get the sale or not, there is a lag because now there are no more leads to call on. Focusing on the right activities, refusing to get sidetracked, and following the process through to the destination is key to being a good salesperson.

A purchasing manager must also be focused. Being able to tell the difference between what should be done and what needs to be done quickly is an important distinction that a purchasing manager will need to be able to ascertain. Departments seem to exist in their own bubble and when submitting procurement requests, often think their request is most important and should be top priority. By staying focused on the big picture and not being easily swayed or pressured by others, a purchasing manager can get all requests handled in a timely and efficient manner.

As you can see, procurement managers and sales managers do actually have several things in common. The abilities to prioritize, organize, and be driven will be utilized every day in various situations, and salesmanship is a perfect tool in which to teach procurement managers how to excel in their positions.

July 12, 2012
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BY Bellwether
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