How to Sell to Procurement

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This is a podcast episode titled, How to Sell to Procurement. The summary for this episode is: <p>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&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">Buyer-Centered Selling</a>—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&nbsp;<em>Negotiations Ninja</em>, 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!</p><h2>Outline of This Episode</h2><ul><li>[1:14] More about Tom Williams</li><li>[2:03] What is Buyer-Centered Selling?</li><li>[3:48] The procurement process</li><li>[5:49] Procurement within an organization</li><li>[10:06] Where a salesperson fits in the process</li><li>[12:46] The discovery process is continual</li><li>[19:54] How to revive stalled deals</li><li>[26:15] The architecture of a close</li><li>[31:19] How to connect with Tom</li></ul><h2>Resources &amp; People Mentioned</h2><ul><li>BOOK:&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">Buyer-Centered Selling</a></li><li>BOOK:&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">The Seller’s Challenge</a></li><li><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">The Kraljic matrix</a></li></ul><h2>Connect with Tom Williams</h2><ul><li><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">Strategic Dynamics Firm</a></li><li>Connect on&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">LinkedIn</a></li><li>Strategic Dynamics on&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">Facebook</a></li></ul><h2>Connect With Mark</h2><ul><li>Follow Negotiations Ninja on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">@NegotiationPod</a></li><li>Connect with Mark&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">on LinkedIn</a></li><li>Follow Negotiations Ninja&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">on LinkedIn</a></li><li>Connect on Instagram:&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);">@NegotiationPod</a></li></ul><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" style="color: rgb(51, 122, 183);"><strong>Subscribe to Negotiations Ninja</strong></a></p>
What is Buyer-Centered Selling?
01:22 MIN
The procurement process
06:31 MIN
Where a salesperson fits in the process
02:42 MIN
The discovery process is continual
07:04 MIN
How to revive stalled deals
04:45 MIN
The architecture of a close
04:36 MIN
How to connect with Tom
00:51 MIN

Mark: Welcome to the Negotiations Ninja podcast, where we develop and deliver the most engaging negotiation content and training in the world. We host negotiation, experts, business people, and entrepreneurs, and discuss what works, what doesn't work, and how we can improve our negotiation skills. Hey listeners, thank you so much for joining me. You've got Mark here. Today, our guest is the amazing and incredible Tom Williams. He's written two very, very, very good books. One is called Buyer Centered Selling, and the other one is called The Seller's Challenge. And, if you're looking for a master class in how to sell to procurement, and B2B sales at the enterprise level, then this episode is for you. We dive into a lot of that in today's discussion. I don't want to steal Tom's thunder though, so get a note pad out, take some notes, and listen to Tom Williams. Tom, how are you?

Tom Williams: Good, thanks Mark, appreciate you having me on this program.

Mark: I'm very excited to have you here, man. And, as a recent reader of Buyer Centered Selling, I'm very excited to get this conversation going. There's a lot of people I know that are going to be listening to this show that are going to get a lot of value out of this. Before we get too far into the conversation, maybe you could tell the listeners who you are and what you do.

Tom Williams: Sure. I think the easiest way to say it is, is I've been a consultant that's been dealing with sales methodology for the last 20 years. Prior to that, I ran a sales organization worldwide in the healthcare space selling medical devices. And prior to that, I started and sold a medical services business. So, most of my background has been in healthcare, but it's been both in operations as well as in a sales and marketing.

Mark: Yeah, fantastic. Now, Buyer Centered Selling elicits a lot of thoughts in my mind. Instead of me speculating, or defining it for the listeners, tell the listeners what Buyer Centered Selling is all about.

Tom Williams: Oh really, when we think about Buyer Centered Selling, we really think about it both. Mark, is both a mindset and a strategy that is really focused on helping your prospective buyers or customers improve their current state through collaboration. That's really how we define it in our mind.

Mark: So, what I'm thinking about this, how is this different to how selling may have been done in the past?

Tom Williams: Well, I think most of the selling of the past has been product centered. It's been a product, features, benefits, those types of things, where we would follow a very rigid sales process to try to uncover customer needs. And, then we would immediately pounce with product knowledge and information to try to get the buyer to buy our product, or service, or solution. And, buyer centric is really understanding how buyers buy. So, it's really understanding the psychology and the steps in which they go through in order to make an informed buying decision. And, so you still follow a sales process, but you have to understand where the buyer is in their process. Some people call it a buyer's journey, some people call it a buyer's process, but how are they effectively making a decision is really what we're looking for.

Mark: I love that you call this out in the book, and I think this is really, really important. Because, I feel like a lot of the people that I speak to in B2B sales, B2B sales, especially don't necessarily understand that the buyers on the other side of the table. Whether they're in the procurement space, or whether they're actually the user of the product or service. They actually have a process that they are bound to go through, can you talk the listeners through that process?

Tom Williams: Yeah, there's a couple of things that I think that are interesting about that, Mark. One is that in some cases, if you think about a buyer, maybe buying some type of technology product, they may only buy that every five to seven years. And, so they don't know how to necessarily buy. Secondly, you can have some buyers that have never bought the product or service that you're selling before, and they need assistance. Had to help them do that. So, they need to be all to think through what are the steps that we go through? Who are the people that need to be involved? How do we make an informed decision? How do we mitigate risks downstream? What are the concerns that I should have, and think about as I go through this process? So, they need help. And then lastly, you've got some folks that I've got a defined process, right. They know what they want to buy, and they've got a defined rigid process that as sellers we must follow. And, oftentimes that starts with procurement or some people call it strategic sourcing or purchasing, but there's a process that the company has in which you must follow if you're going to get a purchase order.

Mark: I want to dwell on that part, because there are both. So for the listeners, just so you know, in many B2B companies, there may not necessarily be a rigid sort of procurement sourcing process that you're going through. But, then in large sort of enterprise level companies, whether it's potentially large commodity based organizations, large manufacturing, industrial organizations, large healthcare organizations. There is a fairly rigid, generally speaking, procurement slash strategic sourcing process that many of these companies go through. And, a lot of people who are sort of new to the B2B space in that world don't necessarily understand that there are some rules that you have to play within, some rules that you can bend, and then so rules that you can break. And, I want to talk around understanding and a critical nature of why it's important to be able to understand where that company is at in terms of maturity on their sort of procurement journey on understanding where that is. Can you explain to the listeners how they can establish what process it has been set up on their end, whether there is one or not? And, what people they need to be tying into the discussion?

Tom Williams: That's a very, very long... There's about three questions in there. Let me try to attack that in a couple of different ways. But first and foremost, let me explain to the listeners why procurement in these large organizations is so important. If you look at procurement and the value that they provide, there's really four main areas or maybe five areas that they really provide input to the organization. First, is on cost savings, right. We all think about they can drop the price or something, but they're also, they're very involved with compliance. They're also involved with risk management, they're involved with innovation. How can you help us grow and be more effective? And lastly, sustainability issues. And as a result, what's happened with procurement is they've gotten a seat at the sweet, sweet table because they can impact so many functional areas of the company. It used to be a department that was in a basement, or on the outskirts of the organization. Now they have a seat at the C- suite table, so they're become more important. So, salespeople need to understand that. The second thing is, is that every dollar that procurement saves drops straight through the bottom line. So if you're a CEO, you're pretty endeared with that procurement function, because you can increase revenue. And at a 50% gross margin, you need to increase revenue two times, right, $ 2. Probably, if you want to drop a dollar to the bottom line has to have your procurement function cut some costs. So, that's why they're important. So, sellers need to understand how mature is the procurement function, and when I talk about maturity is, is how are the functional organization. Are they broken down into purchasing and procurement strategic sourcing? What does that look like in the organizational structure? What are the key performance indicators that they're being measured by? Because, typically those are tied directly back to organizational priorities. And lastly, in our book, The Sellers Challenge, we outlined the Kraljic matrix, which is really a four- quadrant matrix that plants financial results versus supply risk. And, it's a very interesting four- quadrant matrix that if sellers look at it and define where their product fits, it'll tell you exactly what the strategy is going to be, their procurement's going to use against you in a dialogue.

Mark: Yeah, I love that you brought up Kraljic matrix. Because, I think that almost every procurement department, at least mature procurement category management stress sourcing department uses the Kraljic matrix in some sort of way and with some sort of derivative. And, so for those salespeople that are listening right now, I want you to do a little bit of research on your own. Take a look, we can go on Wikipedia or wherever it might be, and you can look up the Kraljic matrix that's spelled K- R- A- L- J- I- C, named after a guy named Peter Kraljic who devised it in 1983. And, basically it's a way to segment spend from procurement's perspective. So if you're a procurement person, the same way that you would segment accounts on the sales side, procurement people segments spend on the procurement side. And, they segment them based on profit impact and supply risk. And, it's a simple four- box matrix to determine where you sit as a sales organization in the mind of the procurement people that are sourcing that product. So are you a non- critical item? Meaning, you're low supply risk and low profit impact. Are you a strategic item? Meaning, you're highest supplier risk and high profit impact. Are you a leverage item? Right, we can exploit poor purchasing power, which means high profit impact low supply risk. Or you're a bottleneck item, which is high supplier risk and low profit impact. It's a very simple four- box matrix that you must understand, because it helps you to determine how procurement people think about you as a salesperson, and the company that you represent that you're selling into. Okay, so now that people are sort of have an idea of what the Kraljic matrix is, we'll go into the second part of that question. And I know it was a long- winded one, but how should a salesperson start asking questions to determine where the maturity is within the strat sourcing procurement department that they potentially may be working with so they can start determining where they fit in the Kraljic matrix?

Tom Williams: Well, I think the first thing to do is to do an analytical, look at the matrix, determine by themselves, where do they think procurement has put themselves. The second thing is, is that by the questions that procurement asks you, you'll quickly determined where you fit. So for example, if they tell you that they're going to an RFP, you've got a pretty good idea which quadrant that you're in. If they're talking about a partnership with you, you've got a pretty good idea, which quadrant that you're in. So, I think that's the first step to doing that. I think the second part is understanding what their metrics are, how are they being judged as an individual or as a department. So again, you can try to look at how... Even if they pushed you into one box, and you don't feel that you belong there, how can you provide value to them that's measurable to help them drive the results they're looking for? Mark, to me, it's about not looking at procurement as an enemy, but looking at them as a colleague that's trying to do their job, which is counter to what we do as salespeople. And, it's interesting dichotomy between the two groups. We think they don't get it, they think we're not listening, right. And, so I think it's having that collaboration, and an open- mindedness to have a conversation to meet in the middle. Procurement, it doesn't use any of the products, or services, or any of our seller sells. They're always are doing it for somebody else. So, one of the things we need to keep in mind is, they're buying for... They've got an internal customer they've got to satisfy. So, they're not trying to just always drive down price, sometimes sustainability is more important than price. Sometimes quality, or delivery, or a combination, innovation is more important than price.

Mark: Yeah, well said. I think that that's very important for people to be able to understand as well. It's not just about price when you're selling to procurement, and I can tell you all of this with confidence as an ex- procurement person for many, many years. Sometimes, and especially in industrial companies, the determining factor it may be the quality or the service level. It may be the safety of the people that are performing the service. It may be if you're buying IT related services, it may be the governance procedures that you have in place in terms of storing data. It may be a number of different things. Now, procurement's job is to make sure that they influence your decision around a lot of these things. So, are they going to tell you what the most important thing is? No, but that comes through the discovery process, which you very clearly outline in your book. Let's talk around that for a second, because I think that that's maybe a good place for us to segue. When we're talking about discovery, it's not necessarily just about the challenges of the company, but it's also about understanding the people that we're negotiating with. Could you help the listeners to understand what questions they would ask around discovery?

Tom Williams: Let me talk about discovery and a couple of different ways, Mark. Because one is, and typically in a typical sales process, most people talk about discovery as a separate distinct category. In other words, it's a stage that you go through. And, if you think about being buyer centered, you never stop discovery. It continues all the way through as the buyer buys the product, and it continues after it through the implementation. And, if you're trying to get a reorder, or a renewal, it continues. So, you're always asking questions, and the questions that you want to be asking are centered around, what is the current state? What is the future state look like that they could envision? What's the cost of an action? And, then what's the root cause of why they... If you've identified a problem, what have they done in the past to try to solve it, if anything? And, what do they see as the root cause of the problem? So, you can really make sure that you're attacking the root cause, and you need to ask questions around each one of those. Another question that people have to ask is, what's the organizational priority? Because, not all problems are high priority, as you know. Sometimes the problem is, I know I got this problem, but it's a two, it's not a 10, right. So, you want to be working on nines and tens problems, not ones and twos. And lastly, who else is involved? Who does this decision impact so that you can make sure that as you're having a conversation, that you can have those people be involved? And lastly, and I think that one of the key questions that I always ask people is, have you ever bought this before? And, would it help you if we outlined a buying process? And, what we use is something called a mutual action plan. And, the advantage of that is if somebody has never bought that product or service before, we jointly work together in a collaborative manner to develop a plan for how to make an effective decision. Whether you buy my product or not. I tell people, Mark, " We developed this together, no matter who you choose, this plan will be effective for you." I've never once had somebody turn me down to develop a mutual action plan.

Mark: I really love this approach, because I think it's very important that we go back to one of the things that you said earlier, where you say, " Look, especially in enterprise level organizations, sometimes they only buy these things every three, five, seven years." And, it's very common sometimes to get a brand new person that has never dealt with this before, has no idea what are the things that they need to pay attention to. And, when you present something like the mutual action plan, to be able to show them what to look for and how to look for, what ends up happening is you start positioning yourself as that trusted advisor in their minds.

Tom Williams: Yeah, and if you think about it, you're selling differently, aren't you? You're selling differently than every other sales rep. And, one of the things I always ask sales reps after a sales call is, were you memorable? Or were you forgettable? And, I usually it gets a chuckle from people, because they kind of laugh at it. But, then when they start to ponder it and think about it, it provides some insight to them. Because really, if you think about how many people does a procurement, or a person deal with on a day- to- day basis, and he may see 10, 12, 15, 20 salespeople a day. At the end of that day, is he's going to remember you? And, are you going to be that trusted advisor? He says, " Wow, I need to call this guy back."

Mark: Yeah, I love that you said that. I think one of the easiest ways for any enterprise level salesperson to differentiate themselves amongst all of the others that procurement people see is just by being able to present well. It's so... Like as a procurement person, just for the listeners, just so that you know, I saw upwards of 500 to a thousand salespeople a year. Whether it was over email, call, in- person meetings. And, I saw probably around 150 to 200 proposals a year, and I can count on one hand the amount of people and proposals that stood out. Which is shocking, it's shocking. And, one of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself as a salesperson is practice your interpersonal skills, practice your conversational skills, practice your presentation skills. That is the lowest hanging fruit that's available, and it'll immediately set you apart.

Tom Williams: You kind of hit a hot button there with me, Mark, about practice, because I think that's one of the things that sales professionals need to spend more time on. You go to sales meetings and typically it's all about product knowledge, and really the time at a sales meeting you should be spending time on is practicing your craft. Practice and get feedback from your peers and your colleagues, because the time to practice is not when you're in front of a customer. And all of a sudden, the first time that people actually talk about and answer questions, oftentimes, it was right in front of the customer. That's the worst time to be doing it. You rather practice that in front of a mirror with one of your peers and have them critique it. And what's funny is, is when you do that, when you practice that you learn a tremendous amount from your colleagues. You get ideas of what they're doing and you find out idiosyncrasies, the things that you're doing that negate the actual process.

Mark: Yeah, I love that. Practice is like one of the most fundamental things that I think is so important in any kind of communication- based business. Whether it's sales, procurement, crisis negotiation, whatever it might be, practice is your friend. It's the mother of all skill. Hey listeners, I want to tell you about another company that I run called Content Callout. It is a thought leadership brand marketing company. Now, what does that mean? It means that we take you as an executive or entrepreneur, a leader of a small or medium sized business, and we turn you into a thought leader online. We take your personal brand, and we amp it up to 11, so that you can lead with confidence knowing that people will recognize you, recognize your brand, and recognize your business. Because, of the thought leadership approach that you've taken on social media through content creation and content distribution, as well as engaging with all of your following online. How do you get involved in this? Easy, easy, easy, just go to Contentcallout. com/ getstarted. And, you will see there three different options that will allow you to take your thought leadership brand for yourself, and for your business to the next level. We are super excited to talk to you about this. We've seen some massive growth with the businesses that we've been working with. Very, very exciting time for us. Look at that, we appreciate it now back to your show. Okay, I want to dive into something that you talk about in Buyer Centered Selling where you start talking about resuscitating stole deals. Sometimes, we go through the process and then all of a sudden what ends up happening is the deal stalls. It gets stuck somewhere, right. Whether it's with legal, whether it's with governance, whether it's with procurement or even the buyer themselves, it gets stuck in the process. How do we resuscitate and revive those deals?

Tom Williams: Well, I think one of the... Again, it's interesting about resuscitation of deals is that most people don't know where deals stall. And, I think that's another problem at the vice- president of sales level is to understand where to deal stall. And, one of the first places to look is, have you defined the buy process? If you haven't defined the buy process, you've got a problem because what you're doing is you're looking at where in your sales process is the deal stall. But here's the problem with that, buying is not linear, and we talk about that in the book. Buying is not linear, it's very alinear. The second thing is, is there often a buyer dysfunction? And, so we've got as disparate individuals or stakeholders within the organization with different ideas and views on, should we make a change? Some people want to make a change yesterday, we should have done this last year, Mark. Some people say, " Let's do it right away." And other people say, " I don't know why we're talking about this. This shouldn't be done at all." And other people are ambivalent, they say, " You know what? I don't care what you change or not." And, so you don't have people all on the same page, and so you need to understand where are they. And, you need to ask questions around that, and so the next thing is, is that you've got to help the buyer, not only collaborate, but co- create a solution. And, then you don't get the deal to stall, because now you've created a solution that they agree they need, right. Regardless of whether they buy from you, you've helped them already, right. Because, you've developed a solution to a problem that they've identified, adhered to, and agreed, we need to take action on this. The next challenge is consensus, how do I build consensus? Because, in the old days we talk about, well, there's an economic buyer, there's an economic influence, there's a final decision maker. And sometimes that is the case, but more often, especially in large enterprise deals, decisions are being made by consensus. And, oftentimes that procurement person or whatever person you're dealing with has never had to build consensus before. So give them a model, show them how to do it, and so that's the other part about getting deals that are stalled back on target.

Mark: One of the things that I coach people on, on either side of the table is asking the very difficult question of, who doesn't want this to happen? Because, I feel like when you start with that process, it helps you to... But, not necessarily you started, but at least asked that question. It helps you to identify where the deal may end up getting stalled, and it also helps you to realize, okay, what are the motivations of those people or that department to not get this deal done?

Tom Williams: The top two reasons why I think that deals get stalled is either A, they don't perceive any value because you have a differentiated the product or solution sufficiently. Or second, and this is the probably the most prevalent one, is risk. Is they perceive a risk, and they're concerned about it. And, so oftentimes you need to deal with those people, what is that risk? Identify it, mitigate it because risk is really, really an important factor. And, I think that's another thing that we talk about The Sellers Challenge is the importance of understanding how the brain works as it affects the buying process. And what I mean by that is, is that the cerebral cortex really of the brain controls logic. The cerebellum is the portion or the midbrain which controls emotion. And what we found is, is a couple things, is that typically salespeople when we lead with procurement, we lead with logic, right. We give them facts, figures, evidence, things like return on investment, net present value, internal rate of return payback. When in effect, oftentimes, whether it's procurement or another stakeholder, it's the emotional side is they don't get. And, the emotion side of the brain is all about safety and survival, but here's the key thing, it detest, absolutely, detest risk. And so if you think about it, what happens is logic is takes a while for the logic to kick in, because they got to process all this information. Emotion is tied back to survival, to fitness, right. It reacts very quickly, emotion is very quick. And so in effect, what studies have shown is that emotion is two times more effective in terms of mitigating risks. Then again, so when you look at why the deal stall, oftentimes, it's about risk and we haven't dealt with the customer in an emotional way to give them a connection why they need to do something different.

Mark: This is so brilliant, and I feel like this is like a master class on B2B selling. Okay, so one of the things there I wanted to touch on, which I think is very important for people to be able to understand. Is your job as a salesperson is to make sure that you hit that emotional argument very, very well and that it's tied into the logic argument. So for example, this is a very old way of thinking. I think Aristotle came up with the whole idea of pathos, ethos and logos, right. So logos is logic, pathos is sort of the emotional appeal. The ethos is the ethical credibility or your credibility as a salesperson. What Tom is talking about is the pathos portion of that, which is how do we tie someone's emotion to the deal to help them make a decision in your favor. And, one of the very important things that he touched on, which is so critical is that the fear of loss is twice as more effective as the happiness that's associated for the potential of gain. So, I could say to you, " Hey Tom, if you do this thing, you're going to make a thousand dollars." Or I could say to Tom, " Hey Tom, if you don't do this thing, you're going to lose out on a thousand dollars." We know statistically that Tom is going to take action on the second thing the most. Now, Tom touched on that and it was really, really quick, but I want you to think about the implications of that kind of a statement. Because, now we're talking about the fear of loss with people, and we know that, that's more powerful. So, we can start tying that into how we help people make a decision in our favor. It's not a trigger you can pull the time, granted, but it is something that you should be utilizing in all of your sales. Tom, this is amazing, man, so far so good. Listen, I want to close off here with closing the deal, because a lot of people, I think this is where they struggle, right. They can get it to the point where they're like, " Okay, we got all the T's crossed, I's dotted, How do we push it over the finish line?" And, there's some harsh realities in closing that deal. Can you speak to the listeners, and tell them about maybe some of what those harsh realities are and maybe the architecture of a close?

Tom Williams: Yeah, I think let's start with kind of the architecture of a close. I think the beauty of that is to think about, sellers don't close deals. Buyers do, because they're the ones that make the buying decision, right. And, so we often think about manipulative tactics of, would you like this with red, or blue, or black, or whatever. Yeah, at the end of the day, really buyers decide when they're going to buy, and how they're going to make the decision. As sellers, what I try to get people to think about is two things. One is, what is the decision criteria? How are they actually going to make a decision? What's the actual criteria they're going to use? Cost, quality, innovation, whatever it happens to be. who are the people involved in making the decision? How will they do it? Is it going to be by consensus? Or is there going to be a economic buyer, the final decision maker? And then lastly, what's the process in which the actual purchase order is going to get processed to? So, I make sure that I understand it has to go from Tom to Mary, and then to Mark. And, I have to find out how long does it take to go from Tom to Mary to Mark? Are they in the same building? Are they in different continents? Are they all going to be in the office? Are they all engaged and understand what this purchase is all about? Are they engaged with that? And, so I can really tie down a finite day, or at least a couple of days within which the PO is going to occur. Some of the harsh realities are, is that people are not in the office. People are not involved, they're not engaged, and so what happens is deal stall. Or, we find out at the last moment, oh, this deal has to go to legal. Or, oh, we just got one more thing, we need to have you sharpen your pencil a little bit. Those are the harsh realities that sellers go through, and the end result is, is I can't forecast accurately. And, that's always been one of my hot buttons is that we've got to be able to forecast accurately. And, the only way to do that is to ask the right questions or the right people upfront, right. And so when we don't do that, we get the harsh reality of, it's just doesn't close because we really don't know the process.

Mark: I love this, I feel like so many people get stuck at the beginning of a sales process, and they try and speed through it. When in fact, they should be slowing down. slowing down on the front end to speed up the back end, because what ends up happening is if you speed up the front end, you get stuck on the back end. You don't ask all the questions that you should be asking, right?

Tom Williams: Yeah, what's interesting, Mark, is I've never found anybody in procurement that didn't know when your end of month or end of quarter was. I've never found one that didn't, right. And, so I always tell salespeople and say, " You know what? They know what your end of month, end of quarter is." And there's no magic, you don't have to close a deal on the 30th and 31st of the month. There's nothing wrong with closing on the eighth, the 10th, the 12th, the first. You can close deals in other times of the month. And, so that's the other thing that I think that salespeople need to know is that it doesn't have to always end up happening at the end of the month.

Mark: Yeah, you know what? And I think to a large extent, that's got to do with a lot of bad coaching from sales leaders. To say to their people, " Hey, we're trying to hit target. We need you to close X, Y, Z." And, if there's no incentive for salesperson to be able to do that, right, they already hit their target, they're going to hit their commission. Then why would you put them in that position? Because, now you're going to unnecessarily discount or try to close with discounts at the back end.

Tom Williams: Yeah, and then invariably that's what happens, right. We say we're customer centric, we're buyer centric. And we sell on value, sell on value, sell on value until last couple of days of the month, the quarter, or worse the fiscal year. And then we came on price, right, what do we need to do to get this done, right?

Mark: Classic, yeah.

Tom Williams: And, that's the classic and you have to break that paradigm, because if you don't, the customer just sits back and says, " I'll just wait until the end of the month, and I'm going to get a sweet deal. And if I can't get it from a rep, I'll say the rep,'Go to your manager, ask him for the discount.'" And, you'll wait for the call for either the manager, or the VP of sales, say, "Mark, can we get this done tonight?"

Mark: Yeah, love it.

Tom Williams: It's kind of similar, Mark, so when we talk about negotiation too, it's similar to what I tell people is, " How often do you negotiate?" And they'll say, " Well, in our industry because of the type of large complex enterprise deals we do, we'd probably negotiate two or three times a month." And I say, "How many times you think the average procurement buyer or a purchasing agent is negotiating?" It could be two or three times a day, who do you think's got the advantage? When you go into that negotiation, and they've been trained at negotiation, have you? And, most salespeople have not been trained, so it's what they revert to, again, is priced discounted, right?

Mark: Yeah, I have really enjoyed this discussion, man. Very, very, very enlightening, I'm sure for a lot of the listeners. I consider this almost like a master class on how to sell into procurement. This was fantastic. If people want to reach out to you, and maybe go to your website, understand more about what you do, how do they do that?

Tom Williams: Sure, our website is wwwstrategicdynamicsfirm. com. And our two books, Buyer Centered Selling, and The Seller's Challenge are both available on Amazon, or in through bookstores worldwide. And, The Sellers Challenge is the chapter that's got the chapter on procurement.

Mark: Amazing, my friend. Thank you so much for being on, and sharing your wisdom. For the listeners, if you're listening to this right now, you have just listened to a master class in selling to procurement. I would highly encourage you to pick up these two books, they are fantastic. We'll link out to all the resources in the show notes. Reach out to Tom, if you have any questions. Tom, thank you again for being on.

Tom Williams: Mark, thanks for letting me be on the show. It's been an honor, a pleasure.

Mark: Hey friends, thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with friends and colleagues so that they can benefit from it as well. If you find Negotiations Ninja podcast worthy, please go on to iTunes and give us a cool rating with a nice review. We certainly appreciate every single one that we get, because it helps us to understand who is listening, how they're listening and what it is they like. If there's something that you would like me to discuss around negotiation, influence or persuasion, give me a shout. You know how to reach me on social media, or you can get me on my website, which is www. negotiations. ninja.( silence)


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
  • [5:49] Procurement within an organization
  • [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

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Tom Williams

Connect With Mark

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