This is a good time to talk about for whom professional buyers actually work. No doubt you have been taught to call on multiple buying influencers who play multiple roles in a customer organization. The people you are calling on are the purchasing agent's internal customers, the people who give them the criteria for evaluating one supplier over another.
Say, for example, you are a salesperson who needs a laptop. (In truth, the buyer for your company will be sourcing laptops for the entire sales force.) Your buyer will have to speak to her internal customers:
- sales management
- systems department
- finance/revenue management
She asks them what their needs are and will likely hear a range of responses. Essentially, she will be scanning Consequences of No Agreement (CNA) elements, such as those listed below, in order to determine what It to buy and establish criteria for choosing a supplier.
- remote connectivity to the internet
- ability to integrate with other systems in the company
Next, the buyer will look at possible trades and do a trade analysis:
- Level 1: price, support costs, upgrades
- Level 2: volume, length of contract, warranty
- Level 3: joint marketing opportunities
Together, all the moving parts of the CNA and trade analyses form the true picture of this business deal. Once all of these variables are on the table simultaneously, good business decisions can be made on both sides. Of course, the alternative would be for the buyer to source the cheapest laptop available in the market. How do you think you or your team, or the IT department for that matter, would react if purchasing simply bought the cheapest machine?
Selling properly, that is, selling to a buyer's internal customers, is your most effective negotiating tool. The more you know about their needs, the more you can help the buyer meet those needs, beyond just low price.