We have some active discussions in the Buyers Meeting Point Group on LinkedIn, most recently, an exchange about what makes a good buyer. Ironically, it was asked by someone who is not a buyer themselves.
The responses include a wide range of capability areas, from negotiation skills, to a desire to learn more about the categories you manage and work collaboratively with suppliers and stakeholders to put effective solutions in place. Several of the participants agree that corporate support from the top down is absolutely necessary – but what exactly does that mean?
In my four years at Buyers Meeting Point, there is one question I have been asked several times, and I am never satisfied with my answer:
What can I do for you?
It is a simple (not to mention generous) question, and there is no end to the ways we have benefitted from active members and sponsors of our community stepping up. But when someone asks you directly what they can do, it is a huge opportunity and not to be wasted. I’ve been working to have a better response to this question for Buyers Meeting Point, and it strikes me that we would all benefit from going through the exercise to be ready with a ‘wish list’ of ways our colleagues can help us.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking, but the common threads are that the requests should be straightforward, short-term, and with clear motivations.
Is there a member of your company or a department that someone could get you access to? A personal introduction always gets the ball rolling faster and with a greater degree of trust and cooperation than the internal equivalent of a ‘cold call’. Be ready with the name of several individuals and groups you’d like greater access to and the reasons why.
Is there a category of spend or a cross-functional initiative going on that procurement wants in invite to? This is particularly true when your colleagues are skeptical of getting procurement involved. Being someone’s ‘+1’ to a meeting will get you in the door a lot faster than asking for a formal invite of your own or ‘crashing’ the party.
If someone has something good to say, ask if they will write it down so you can use it in reports or presentations elsewhere in the company. Don’t be surprised if it goes better if you write the quote for them – even better, take a quote from one of their emails. Always get permission before using a quote. Save up as many as you can get and use them as needed. Don’t forget to connect on LinkedIn too, even though you are in the same organization - today.