Want More Sales? Then Impress The Top Buyers

Tim Ussher, Chief Procurement Officer

Corporate buyers are a force to be reckoned with, commercial king makers, with the power to award huge multimillion dollar contracts. So shouldn’t salespeople be doing everything in their power to impress them? Yet why is it so many buyers remain exasperated by the number of senior salespeople that come in to see us, that are badly prepared, don’t listen or follow the process, miss hints, manage their time badly, submit poor tender responses and simply say the wrong things?

I’ve been a buyer for 35 years, CPO for Virgin, Sky, Williams and Regus, and have consulted for BAT, Diageo, EMI and London 2012 Olympics. I’ve run global procurement teams of 340 staff, met thousands of sellers and awarded billions in contracts. So surely sellers should seek the advice of a buyer on what we expect and want? We want to be impressed!

Top 3 Tips to Impress the Buyer

1. Ask the Buyer what is needed to win the order
A simple question, but one I’ve only been asked maybe a handful of times in 35 years. I can almost remember each one. Buyers want brilliant suppliers that fulfil their service, quality and commercial requirements. When asked this question, we just might actually guide you toward a successful outcome. “You’re 10 percent out,” “I need sale or return,” Yyou’ve got to change your account manager” are all useful prompts to give you that winning edge and move you closer to what the buyer needs to be able to award you the big order. Ask… listen… then act on it.

2. Information is Power
The Buyer will go through an extensive preparation phase, gathering information on your products/services, your competition, the market, cost breakdowns, your account team, your company’s background, statements and results, low-cost sourcing and so on. So you’d better ensure you’re equally prepared with all the same information to keep up with the discussion and questions you’ll be asked. There’s nothing worse than the buyer knowing more about your products than you. And all this information helps toward a faster conclusion and shows the buyer they are in good hands.

3. Prepare Before Meeting the Buyer
The buyer spends a lot of time preparing, meeting stakeholders, researching, sorting governance and signoff, yet may only have a handful of meetings with successful suppliers (intro/RFI then tender stages, Q&A, pitch, negotiation and contract). So a relatively small amount of time is spent in front of your buyer to understand them, their drivers and of course impress them. Whilst buyers want the right product/service and deal, they also want an outstanding account lead or salesperson, get that wrong and you’re handicapping yourself all the way. Prepare agendas, write minutes, draft the perfect presentation, rehearse your timings, be punctual, match their dress code, make sure your pc is ready and working, have backup hard copies, cover all potential queries and eventualities. I’d only rate the seller as “slick” in maybe just one in every eight meetings I have – be that one.

Tim Ussher’s book “Winning Selling to Impress the Buyer!” is now available on Amazon. It gives salespeople the full understanding of what buyers need, expect and want when meeting them, following their processes, pitching, tendering and negotiating. For more information, visit WinningSelling.com.