December 8

Sales Logic-Selling to Big Companies

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Mark Hunter:

The top of the funnel is about uncovering the need, creating the opportunity. You’re not gonna get that from purchasing department, who is the person who really is gonna be impacted by what you’re selling. That’s where you start sales

Speaker 2:

Logic with Mark Hunter and Meridith  Elliot Powell is brought to you by vanilla

Speaker 3:

Soft. Most people refer to vanilla soft as the solution. It’s the solution to ensure sales reps make the right number of attempts for every lead across all channels, including email social on the phone. It’s the solution to serve the rep the next best lead. Every single time you need to get your solution@vanilla.com.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Hey, this is Meridith  Elliot Powell. And to another episode of sales logic, the show where we dive into the strategies, discuss the steps, everything that you need to know to sell effectively, open more doors, close, more sales, and well sell logically. And I’m here with my co-host Mark Hunter

Mark Hunter:

Morning, mark. Hey, good morning. It’s great to see you. And you know what? We got another great topic and we got some good stuff before the show. We were talking about all the stuff we’ve got coming up in the next few weeks on sales logic. So Hey, make sure you tell your friends rate, review the show and make sure you download it on your podcast.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Yeah, we got some good surprises coming up in the next couple of weeks. So let’s go ahead and dive into today’s show. I love the fact that we talk sales on Saturday. Cuz if you are ever really gonna be good at sales, you gotta sell all the time. Now this is the way the show works. If you have any questions, first of all, go ahead and pipe ’em right in here today. We will address them live. But if during the week you’re thinking about sales logic, and maybe a sales question you need answered. Just go ahead and visit our website. A sales logic podcast.com sales logic, podcast.com, or just put it out there on social media and hashtag sales logic. Each week we take your questions, answer them live right here on the show. We have a hot topic. We discuss a book that we think would really help you take your sales to the next level. And last for at not least, we do a lightning round because we want you to get return on investment from investing your time in us. So mark what’s on tap for

Mark Hunter:

Today on tap today, we got a great topic. The topic is how to work with purchasing departments. Man, how many times have we all been thrust into that situation? <laugh> we got a great core from Holly in Miami. I’ll get to that in just a bit. We got a book we’re gonna talk about that. I think really ties in with purchasing departments. And then we’ve got a lightning round, which is gonna give you some fast tips and some fast ideas that you can run with right away. So, Hey, let’s go ahead and jump into Holly in Miami, right? When does it make sense to go over your buyer’s head when they’re not giving you the information you need and let’s not kid ourselves. We have all asked ourselves this question many, many times. So marriage jump in. Yeah,

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

This is a, uh, this is a good question and really a tough one. I think number one is you better have exhausted all of your options. You better have built that relationship. Had the meetings done everything you can do, make sure you have dotted every I crossed every T and I say, you need to let that purchasing agent know that you’re going over their head. Don’t do it in

Mark Hunter:

Secret. I think that’s so key. There’s no need to do anything in secret. And one of the techniques that I love to do, in fact, I’ll probably talk about it in the lightning round is you wanna get as many names of other people. And when you’re talking to somebody say this, the purchasing department and they mention other names, you wanna immediately reach out to them and begin developing a relationship with them because you know the old expression you dig the hole before you need the water. Yeah. I mean, you, you create the relationship. So don’t think for more. Cause if you’re dealing with a purchasing department, chances are, it’s a bigger company. Chances are it’s full of a lot of opportunities. So it’s worth making that investment up front. So Holly, I, I kind of contend this and this is gonna be a little bit, Ooh, Ooh. Where’s he going? Hey, if you don’t have any business with them and you’re not getting anywhere, you don’t have anything to lose. So just go ahead over their head. And I know that’s gonna shock some people, but you know what, Hey, what do you have to lose? Yeah.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

I hate the expression, go over their head because it, it sounds like we’re doing something, um, secretive. I like the idea of maybe trying an alternate route. And again, what I say is that it’s that you’re doing the work that you need to do. And you’ve, you’ve, you’ve exhausted the options with the purchasing department and they’re just not there. They just won’t pull the trigger and they won’t make the decision. And I just let the purchasing department director know this has been a great conversation. I think I need to gather some more information. I need to gather some more ideas on how I could help you and how I could support you. You’ve mentioned. And some other people I’m gonna go ahead and have some conversations with them, making the purchasing de director feel a part of it or the purchasing manager feel like you’re not going over their head. You’re going kind of with them to talk to other people.

Mark Hunter:

See? And that’s key what you said. You’re gathering information, you’re gathering a other information. And that just comes across a lot differently than saying I’m going over your head. You are a village idiot. No, you’re not a village idiot. I’m I’m just trying to get some more information, respect, respect the person, but I’ll tell you what, don’t allow yourself to be afraid to step out out and reach somebody else if you need to.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Yeah. I would also say, I, I really question ever starting with the purchasing department, even if you’re told to start with the purchasing department, even if I’m directed to the purchasing department, that is not where I start the sale. I start to see all outside, outside of the purchasing department

Mark Hunter:

With that. Why don’t we jump into the topic, how to work with purchasing departments, because here’s the whole thing. I’ll get a call. And I’ll say, mark, I can’t seem to break into this company. And I say, well, who have you been talking to? I’ve been talking to the purchasing department. Why you never start with the purchasing department because what is their job? Their job is to take care of the transaction. Their job is to not to uncover the need. That’s what your job is. The top of the funnel is about uncovering the need, creating the opportunity. You’re not gonna get that from purchasing department. You’ve gotta get that from who is the user who, who is the person who really is gonna be impacted by what you’re selling. That’s where you start.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Yeah. I also think you have to understand that working with purchasing departments, when you have uncovered the need and it’s time to pull the trigger and buy the product. What the purchasing department wants is very different than what the person you sold the product to. Once the purchasing department really is about not upsetting the apple cart, uh, making it as seamless and easy as possible saving money. So they have different needs. So the way you work with the purchasing department needs to be different than how you worked with the director that you sold the product to. Because purchasing department, a lot of times doesn’t have a lot of vision outside of the purchasing department, without

Mark Hunter:

A doubt, they live in a very narrow world and Meridith  you really hit on something. They have different needs, they have different objectives and you wanna uncover what are their objectives? One of the questions that I love asking somebody in purchasing, Hey, what’s the computer system you guys use. What’s the system you use. And, and what are the main metrics that you use with regards to the supply chain? I love using the word supply chain because that’s really what a purchasing agent does. They’re managing the supply chain. So when I can begin to have a conversation with them regarding their language, regarding their information, their needs, you know what? They begin to see me as one of them. Now, here’s something very interesting when it comes to price, you know, we say, well, oh, purchasing agents, all they wanna do is beat you up on price.

Mark Hunter:

Yes they do. But here’s something a very much interest. You are not the most difficult part to their day. The most difficult part of their day is when they have to go back and tell somebody else that they’re not buying what they wanted. Cuz they’re getting something cheaper. Now, here’s what I found. If I can create enough of a need from the user, from the people who are gonna benefit from it, the purchasing department’s just gonna go ahead, go along with it. Second thing is this. The purchasing department is not tasked with getting a lower price on what they’re buying from you. No they’re tasked with getting a lower price overall on everything that they buy. In other words, they have got their quarterly standards. They’ve got their metrics, they’ve got their goals, they’ve got their objectives. And what I say is this, a purchasing agent will always focus in on the softest target.

Mark Hunter:

The softest target is where they will focus in. And if they see you are not flexing on price, if they see your you’re not flexing on this, but they know they need it. They’ll go ahead and buy it. Quick story. I’ll share with you. I was doing a program on maximizing price in the room, happened to be the VP of procurement for a company. And if I mentioned the name, you would know it. Everyone would know it. And he had a number of purchasing agents, rather large sophisticated buying department. He made the comment and he said, I tell all of my buyers. He says, if the a salesperson can’t deliver what they want me to buy with strong body language, strong voice and eye contact, I know there’s a discount to be had. And think about that for a moment. You see purchasing departments, what do they do? They work with sales people all the time. They know where the soft targets are and they will pounce on the soft, target it in a heartbeat. So Hey, if that’s the way you come across, guess what? You’re gonna be there. Lunch.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Yeah. I also think you need to realize that, um, it is, it is not in the purchasing. Department’s best interest to make a change. So if you are selling new, like you’re rocking their world, you know, they now have to have new systems and new processes and enter a new vendor. So they’re not in your corner cheering for you, right? Because if they already have me as a vendor, putting mark in as a vendor is a hassle. So you need to, when working with the purchasing department, think about making it as easy as possible for them. How, how can you really, first of all, have empathy with the fact that you’re a new vendor. They’re gonna need to make a change there. There’s gonna be some extra work involved in them, but what’s gonna be the payoff for them. And how can you make that extra work as easy as possible?

Mark Hunter:

That is so key because the cost of conversion is always greater. You know, you come in and you say, oh, while we’re we’re 3 cents cheaper, we’re two who cares because now they gotta move one set of inventory out, set up another set of stocking numbers, set up another, the supply chain changes. And just as you said, they wanna simplify things. So as a result, they’re gonna be very why change. It’s gonna have to be a significant difference for them or driven by somebody else saying, Hey, this is what we need now. Here’s the advantage. Once you’re in with the purchasing department, it does work in your favor because remember now they don’t wanna switch to go as somebody else just because somebody’s a little bit cheaper. Don’t think for a moment with purchasing departments, that price is the absolute decision. No, it’s not. Price is not.

Mark Hunter:

It’s the total cost of ownership. And this is, this is where I do credit. More and more purchasing agents are coming out of school with a degree in supply chain management in degrees. And in the total cost of ownership, the entire supply chain is factoring in more and more. So you may have a higher price, but you’re able to ship in smaller quantities. You’re able to provide better service. You able to do X, Y, and Z better. Guess what? That’s gonna offset price. So don’t think for an moment that purchasing agents are only dealing with price.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Yeah. I think the biggest thing that salespeople need to understand when dealing with purchasing departments is number one is again, it’s a different sale and you need to go in there and think before you’re dealing with the purchasing department that you need to see it from their perspective. One of the biggest mistakes I see sales people make is like, I’ve just spoken with the CEO of the company. The CEO of the company wants this. And I go down to purchasing and purchasing is a little bit resistant because I’m a hassle and I’m arrogant because the CEO already put their stamp of approval on me, will understand the purchasing department can either make this an easy transition or they can make it a difficult transition. And all that’s gonna filter back up to the CEO is whether working with you was a good idea or not.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

So the moment that you stopped selling to the CEO, selling to the purchasing department, be empathetic to what they’re going through. Do as much of the heavy lifting as you can do and be ridiculously responsive and ridiculously accommodating. Because once you get it through purchasing, just like you just like mark said, I mean, you’re in their like glue. They don’t wanna change to another vendor. They be a big hassle on the front end, but they’re a huge advocate on the back end because once they get you in there, they don’t wanna lose you cuz they don’t wanna do this again.

Mark Hunter:

That’s a huge piece. I wanna come back and talk about this whole supply chain cuz it’s funny cuz I’m working right now with a company that sells PPE personal protection equipment. Of course that’s been in the news because of COVID pandemic and everything. And most of this comes out of China. And of course everybody’s trying to, to develop alternate sources. This company happens to be a manufacturer in Romania. Well right here alone, this means that coming to the us, it comes through Eastern ports versus Western ports. Now, if you understand supply chain, you know that Western port right now are very much congested. So this suddenly becomes an alternate source. This suddenly see you see here’s what this company’s doing this company’s saying, how do we exploit? How do we create opportunities in the supply chain that purchasing agents that purchasing people, because this is truly a commodity are going to embrace.

Mark Hunter:

This is what you wanna find it. There are so many goals, so many objectives, so many pieces of information that you can bring to the table beyond price because the other thing is stability. You see what this company, what this company in Romania doesn’t have going for them is that they’ve only been in business for 12 months. And there’s a lot of large organizations you’re selling to big companies will say, and they’re gonna sit there and say, we’re not gonna deal with a vendor. That’s only been in business for 12 months because we don’t know if they’re financially stable, what’s their bond rating. What what’s there’s charity payments. What is the certainty that the supply chain is not going to be broken? Because again, right now purchasing agents are more in Vogue than ever. Because all you have to do is look around at all of the disruption in the supply chain in almost every good and service menu manufactured.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

I think that is so key. You know, mark, I think the really the biggest message here if I had to wrap it into one piece is to say that, understand that selling to the purchasing department is a different animal. And even if the deal is closed, by the time you get to the purchasing department, realize you have one more sale to go and you really need this on your side and understand their motives, their objectives, and their goals are different than the rest of the organization. And if you can master selling to the purchasing department and you respect the fact that it is a second sale, you’re gonna put yourself in a position to really not only gain competitive advantage, but be successful for the long term with that company. Because if you make it easy once with the purchasing department, if you’re going back in there for a second sale, they’re gonna be on your side and actually advocating for you. They’re gonna help you go deeper and sell wider with that company because you understand them and you made it easy

Mark Hunter:

For them. And you, you just touched on something, is this a one off purchase or is this a continuous purchase? Cause here’s what I found purchasing departments. If what they’re going to be buying from you is gonna be a continuous purchase. You fall into a process and it has got to follow that process because they’re not gonna deviate from it just for you. However, if what you’re selling is a one off item, we’ll say it’s a one time service. It’s a one time thing. Guess what? You can write the rules. If you have enough support from outside, because guess what? Purchasing departments face this issue all the time, you know the CEO or the CTO or the C says, Hey, we’re gonna buy this. And this is a one time purchase. I don’t what you say, this is what we’re gonna do. The purchasing department says, okay, we’ll do it. We’ll do it. We’ll do it. Yeah. So if it’s a one time purchase, you do control. If you have enough support from whoever it is that is championing you, that is gonna be the user, the benefactor of what you sell.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

I would agree with that. I would still say that I think that it’s smart to acqui and be as accommodating as possible to the purchasing department. You know, here’s one thing that we know as sales people, we work with a lot of purchasing departments. If we sell into big enough companies, the chances that we’re gonna wind up in front of the purchasing department are pretty good. So you know what paperwork is required. You know what purchasing is gonna ask you for, go ahead, get it together. Be prepared and be proactive. Just an example. I was working with the purchasing department just last week and I had made this, uh, sale to the VP of sales, sent me to the purchasing department. And I just reached out to the purchasing department before they reached out to me and said, typically, when I work with purchasing departments, this is what they need from me. This is what they expect. Is this enough? Is there anything else you need? And I immediately had a connection with the head of purchasing because I was making her life so much easier.

Mark Hunter:

And that’s a good thing. Respect their paperwork. Most larger companies have got their vendor forms out there, all on the internet. I was speaking with a gentleman yesterday, they’re a smaller company and they are totally paperless. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and the company, they, he was trying to get approval from said, what’s your company policy regarding paper. And he says, we don’t have one because we don’t use paper. You know? So however he answered it. I mean, I was speaking with somebody else the other day. And again, it’s a training company and it’s like a four or five person company. And one of the questions on the form was does your company provide lactation rooms for your employees? Yeah, he says, look, we’re all, we’re all virtual, but don’t mock what they’re asking you. Yeah, because again, they’ve got their criteria. They’ve got their reasons just work with them and complete the forms. Yeah.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Mark. We better get to the book of the

Mark Hunter:

Week. Yes. Are you ready? It is. Hey, I am selling to big companies by Jill, Conrad. You and I both know Jill. She’s a great friend of ours. She wrote this book probably about 10 years ago. And I’ll tell you what it is just as relevant as ever today, selling to big companies. What I like about this is it really helps break down all of the steps and all of the pieces that you have to go through. This is your go-to book. Pick it up. Jill Conrad. Great, great friend. So anyway, I don’t mean to run past, Hey, maybe you got a comment regarding the book.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

I love that book. I probably read it three times. To me. It has the staying power of how to win friends and influence people. Jill may have written it 10 years ago, but I think it, I think it’s gonna remain the rule book for probably the next 10 or 20 years. She just has very fundamental principles in there that if you follow you are really gonna position yourself to sell, uh, not only sell to big companies, but sell really well and effectively

Mark Hunter:

To big companies without a doubt. So Hey, with that lightning round, put your hands on the buzzer, get ready. The lightning round is best practices for dealing with a purchasing department. Go

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Nu number one, um, learn what the part proactively, uh, learn what the purchasing department needs be proactive in getting them information forms, whatever it

Mark Hunter:

Is that they need. I’m gonna build on that. Ask them what their supply chain process looks like, ask ’em what their metrics are, ask ’em what their objectives are.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Great. Understand that this is a different sale. So go in there ready to meet the needs of the purchasing department, not the needs of what your product or service sell overall for

Mark Hunter:

The company. Don’t hesitate to resist. They will focus in on the softest target. Just you don’t want to be the softest target. Yeah. I

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Love that. Oh, we had, uh, one of our viewers, uh, write in, write in and say confidence is key in sales. And it is so confident in dealing with the purchasing department. I would say to be accommodating. But as mark just said, to a point, don’t be afraid to push back. If you accommodate on a few things and they’re as you for something that’s ridiculous, don’t be afraid to question it and push back just a little bit.

Mark Hunter:

And when you accommodate, you don’t have to be accommodating on price, accommodate on other things because they’re looking at total cost of ownership. The entire supply chain

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Understand their goal is status quo and anything that you can do to make moving and getting you on board as easy as possible without upsetting their apple cart. Do that, make it as easy as possible.

Mark Hunter:

Respect them as individuals. You know, at the end of the day, they’re just doing their job, respect them for the job that they’re being asked to do

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Understand they’re a gatekeeper that like it or not, they do hold quite a bit of power. Even if you the sale to go through, you do not want purchasing to be your enemy.

Mark Hunter:

Understand that many times purchasing agents have more contacts with other purchasing agents in other companies than they do inside their own company. Leverage that,

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Get the person that you sold the product or service to, to do the hand off to the purchasing department, preferably in an email or even in a three-way phone call or something like that. The more that you have, the, the person that you sold to stamp of approval and the purchasing department sees that easier. It’s

Mark Hunter:

Gonna be never start with the purchasing department. Always start someplace else. Why don’t you throw in one more and then we’ll kind of close it down.

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Okay. I would say that again. Be respectful and be helpful. Constantly be both of those things do not go in overly competent or with arrogance. Understand that you need this person on your side. If you sell the purchasing department, you’re gonna have a sale for

Mark Hunter:

A long time. And I’m gonna add to that. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Again. They put their pants on two legs at a time, not 2, 2, 2 legs at a time, one leg at a time. Just

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Like you. Well, no, no. They’re the, they’re the purchasing department. They may put it on

Mark Hunter:

Two legs at a time. Yeah. That, wow. That’s that’s weird. Hey, I wanna say thank you for listening to sales logic this week. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we’ve said has earned you a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter and I’m Meridith  Elliot Powell. Remember when you sell with confidence and integrity, uncertainty

Meridith  Elliot Powell.:

Suddenly becomes your competitive advantage and the sale becomes logical. All right, we’ll see you here next Saturday morning, 9:00 AM Eastern with probably a little bit of a different look, maybe a couple of surprises. So you wanna make sure to, uh, to join us next week. Remember send your questions to sales, logic, podcasts.com, and we will discuss them right here on sales logic. We’ll see you next week.

Speaker 3:

Most people refer to vanilla soft as the solution. It’s the solution to ensure sales reps make the right number of attempts for every lead across all channels, including email social on the phone. It’s the solution to serve the rep the next best lead. Every you need to get your solution@vanilla.com.

Meridith Elliott Powell


Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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