Friday, November 15, 2013

PURCHASING: LIFE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTER

Most of my adult working life has been in sales of one form or another.  But there was a time I was officially a buyer.  Due to downsizing I was unemployed for awhile when Len, my brother in law had a maternity leave for an advertising media buyer.  I was grateful for the opportunity, but it required a bit of an adjustment--after all I would now be on the other side of the counter!

At first I was probably more sympathetic of sales people and listened to more of them for longer than my predecessor.  After awhile though I began to be annoyed.  There are only so many minutes in a work day and there are other chores for a buyer such as processing orders, reporting on them and listening to the requests of my superiors with lots of details to worry about.  Also I couldn't help but notice that they all claimed to be the best and implied that if I was really doing my job I would buy from them.  There is only so much money and always the buyer has a different perspective than the seller.

I did appreciate sales reps who actually pointed out things I didn't know or that expanded my awareness. Some were understanding of my situation, but most were a steady stream of why I should buy from them.

Needing help I enrolled in a night course for Purchasing at Mohawk College.  There I met the instructor Laura and anticipated a lot of how to beat the sales person rhetoric.  Wrong!  Sales people can provide useful information.  Sales people can troubleshoot.  You can negotiate with most good sales reps. Some of them are nice.

A more specific fear was that the goal of a buyer is to force down the prices.  Naturally sales people are hired to maximize profit and on the other hand buyers are hired to minimize expenses to maximize profits.  Laura pointed out a fair price is one that allows the seller to make enough profit that they can stay in business and provide support service.  If the seller feels they are not making enough profit they will stop negotiating.

The goal of purchasing is similar to that of selling.  To be more efficient and effective at doing a function that is important to a business.  Lots of details to do the job.  Purchasing is concerned about timeliness, value, storage, transportation, billing, credit.  Getting the right product and/or service to get the job done with the optimal profit.

As I have been told by some sales books the ideal is a win-win situation where both sides feel they got what they wanted.

1 comment:

  1. Agree with the last comment. Sales are tough, it is definitely suited to a certain personality type and I admire that!

    ReplyDelete