Help me understand the mind of a buyer/procurement
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  1. #1
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    Default Help me understand the mind of a buyer/procurement

    I know everyone is an individual, but help me underetand the thought process of a buyer. I cant break into new customers. The buyers all completely ignore any emails or walk-ins. I literally have had a 0% success rate when walking in and talking to people/dropping off a brochure/info.

    I have customers thst tell me Im low on price. We have excellent reputation for quality and on-time delivery. The majority of what we do has less than 2 week leadtime. Much is 1 week or less.

    So what is the problem? Why wont anyone give us a chance? Not even a small chance.

    Been in business over 6yrs. I have been doing it 26yrs. Not new.

    What can we offer above price, quality and delivery? Im a fool. I thought that was enough. What am I missing?

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    Your best "contact" info is passed along by word of mouth. This includes giving most any sales person a few minutes of your time. They want to know what your shop does to help them sell you whatever you need. These same sales people are often asked "Do you know anyone who . . ." and you have just made a sales call by proxy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red James View Post
    Your best "contact" info is passed along by word of mouth. This includes giving most any sales person a few minutes of your time. They want to know what your shop does to help them sell you whatever you need. These same sales people are often asked "Do you know anyone who . . ." and you have just made a sales call by proxy.
    Thanks. I have asked customers to "tell their friends" and one admitted he wanted us to himself. Basically didnt want someone else to use up capacity.

    One thing I do tell potential customers is that we are here to help make their life easier. To help solve their issues.

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    I have a buyer that works for me in my day job, the business does $80M/yr in sales and roughly $30M/yr in material orders go thru her. Right or wrong we are pretty loyal to our suppliers and only look to change when they stop delivering on time or pricing gets way out of wack. Sometimes price isn't always the driver due to the nature of our business but there are occasions (10%) it does matter on higher volume buys or if we feel the price escalations are excessive without a reasonable explanation. Looking up purchasing histories on parts takes 2 seconds. Some of the machine shops and circuit board fab houses we use have out grown us as a few local businesses got a juicy gov't contract so they went all in and we got bumped way down. My machining side business has picked up some of this work and they keep sending more my way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pgmrmike View Post
    I have customers thst tell me Im low on price.
    Does this mean you're generally lower priced than the competition? By how much?

    Price signalling is a real thing. If you're priced significantly lower than the competition then people may well assume that you're a budget shop putting out cheap work that matches the price. In some cases (not sure about job shop work) people have shown that they actually got more sales by raising prices, which sounds counter-intuitive until you think about the mindset that we all share to some extent: if we look at two widgets that do the same thing and have similar reviews, a lot of us will assume the more expensive one is better...

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    Quote Originally Posted by aarongough View Post
    Does this mean you're generally lower priced than the competition? By how much?

    Price signalling is a real thing. If you're priced significantly lower than the competition then people may well assume that you're a budget shop putting out cheap work that matches the price. In some cases (not sure about job shop work) people have shown that they actually got more sales by raising prices, which sounds counter-intuitive until you think about the mindset that we all share to some extent: if we look at two widgets that do the same thing and have similar reviews, a lot of us will assume the more expensive one is better...
    Was thinking as I read original post:

    Good, fast and cheap. Normally a customer only gets to pick two.

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    Try talking to someone who isn't a buyer. At my current job, we sell to the engineers. Then the engineer tells procurement who to buy from.

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    For a sales guy it almost doesn't seem like a serious question...not making light of it, but its sales 101. The answer is, like almost all humanoids they are primarily interested reducing pain (and of course the universal requirement of feed the ego).

    If you're not getting on the list, they're not currently in any pain. If everything is hunky dory, you bugging them is the source of pain. If someone is pressuring them for better quality, delivery, price....you might turn into the remedy instead of the source. A lot of sales is timing....can be tough if they're not currently experiencing any pain

    Or create some pain for them. Request a chance so many times it becomes less painful to give you that chance than rebuff you again. Of course you have to do so without them hating you ....,gotta stroke the ego a bit with that. Create it by being so nice but persistent their pain becomes a bit of guilt at not giving you a chance. Or get someone in production/engineering/whatever to press them - that too can create a little pressure.

    Or move on, plenty o' fish. Maybe they're penises and give the work to their cousin no matter what.....sales is about kissing lots and lots of frogs. You only win a small percentage of the time and that often takes many many follow ups. Sales isn't about going to one place once, its about going 100 places several times a year and through that picking up enough to get a business going. Eventually you get a little momentum/brand and its not such hard slogging, but to get it going, that's how.

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    Have you taken an Neuro Linguistic Programming class? Many people laugh at NLP as some sort of Jedi mind game but it works well when you understand how to word yourself better. A couple of my go to things when having a difficult sales call are "telling and selling" and the power of the word "IF".

    So many times when I've been on the receiving end of a pitch it's always been a salesman telling me what all he can do for me. You may listen to the pitch , but with little or no interest as it's been spilled all to often. Put yourself into a position of listening to what the customer has to say, people in a higher position like to talk about themselves or how they got to where they are. Getting the client to open up is the key, be in awe at what they are doing, keep asking questions about themselves, you have to get them into that euforia of self confidence where they actually drift off into a slight daydream and want to talk. This is "telling is selling". If you’re with a client and you tell them how good you are and you have this capability or that capability then you are "telling and not selling". The customer at this point may feel intimidated, or even resentful.

    If the customer is talking about themself then you are in a position to throw in the word "if". Never say somthing like "I can make this part as good or better than anyone else" Rather "What (if) I can produce your part with a better quality and lead time than your current supplier". At this point you have the clients attention as you are not promising anything, just opening the door for a possible scenario. Finally someone not just giving him the same lip service he gets daily. For me, "If" is one of the top five trigger words in the english language.

    I'm sure you have bought a car before, New, Used, doesn't matter. Did you hint that you were looking elsewhere also? If so, Did the salesman start a chain of scenarios to keep you on the hook? "If I can get you Serious Radio as an option would you be more interested"<<< Pretty slick, now he has your attention as well as selling you another subscription service he will get comisission on. Or maybe, "If I can get you a better interest rate than the other dealer, would you be interested?" "I'll tell you what, 'If" I can get my manager to throw in a bed liner, floor mats, the sirius radio, and a better rate can we do the deal right now?" Bang! that's usually the end of being debt free!!!

    Those two letters are mighty powerful when selling.

    Take a look at some of the youtube NLP vids on selling.

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    Are you leaving anything more than a business card? If not maybe you need to give away a promotional item that someone is likely to keep. Could be if they are currently happy with their suppliers they aren't going to give you a shot right now, possibly down the road something will come up, but your business card just got tossed or buried and you are forgotten. Different scenario but I went ages without needing any circuit board replacement or repairs. I had long since forgotten who I had used previously as a good half dozen years had passed. Lo and behold there was a 12" ruler in my desk drawer that I open frequently from T.I.E. I called them and let them know their ruler they sent me with my last order made a sale. Seems like most people here don't like coffee cups, but I honestly never toss them out. I use them to hold pens, exacto knifes 6" scales, etc,etc. and off course coffee or hot tea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mneuro View Post
    Try talking to someone who isn't a buyer. At my current job, we sell to the engineers. Then the engineer tells procurement who to buy from.
    This is a good tactic
    Used to piss off one of our buyers here that has since retired

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    Host a lunch at your shop. Invite the purchasers, engineers, owners, etc. that you've been chatting with about possible PO's.

    People will show up for free food. And would give you a chance to have a 2-3 minute speech about how you would love to do some work for all of them as you thank them for coming.

    This will accomplish multiple things:

    1) Show off your more than capable shop
    2) Put you in an even better relationship with potential customers
    3) Start the idea in someone's brain that they "owe" you for the lunch

    Purchasers love to save money. And it's easy for them to compare the same item in two different catalogs when the catalog lists the same manufacturer's part number. Now when you're talking custom machined components, it's a little harder for them to take a chance. And a lot of them (I've known) are lazy. They're going to take the surefire path of least resistance. Easier for them to just keep ordering the same part from the same supplier and not rock the boat.

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    try going in with a case of scotch, or some season tickets to something. This is shit I can't get into, but I know of a lot of big successful shops where it's business as usual.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    try going in with a case of scotch, or some season tickets to something. This is shit I can't get into, but I know of a lot of big successful shops where it's business as usual.
    That won't work on me, scotch was about the only alcohol I wouldn't drink back in the day.

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    Three suggestions:

    1- I hear you about the current customer who is hesitant to refer because he wants you to yourself. Kind of infuriating, but understandable. For that reason you're much more likely to source referral business from someone who 'used' to be a customer. In other words, concentrate your effort on folks you know who used and liked you when they were at a former workplace but are now somewhere else. If you're genuinely a good value (competent, timely, low-friction, cost-effective) and if you're genuinely those things relative to their other current options...they're going to have incentive to switch their new place to you. If not, you really need to rethink your value proposition, relative to their other alternatives. Basic competition. Know yourself but know the other side too.

    2- Go deep with your understanding of why you're not getting the gigs. Cultivate multiple contacts at a select group of places you identify as the best fit (you love them, they should love you, volume of repeat business is robust, prospects going forward seem optimistic). Work various levels of the organization (engineering, procurement, management, operators). Be candid with each that as much as a particular RFQ, what you really want is to understand what you can do to add value for them. That you want to understand what each of them thinks you would need to do to get the business. That you want to understand why each of them thinks you may not be making it to the finish line. But you have to genuinely want to listen to the answers. To really listen to what they tell you. Hearing from multiple vectors on the 'why' allows you to compare the answers against each other and helps you get at the truth. Sometimes the truth isn't easy to hear. Be prepared to (in a proactive and positive way) figure out the implications of what you learn about yourself and your business during that process.

    3- Sometimes it's simply not a good fit. Not their fault. Not yours. You need to factor how their business model works and how your business model works. There may simply be a mismatch. It's a big ocean and not all fish get along. Find the right school to swim in/with and concentrate your efforts.

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    There is no logic at all to a purchasing agent:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails non-sequitor-criticalthinking.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    try going in with a case of scotch, or some season tickets to something. This is shit I can't get into, but I know of a lot of big successful shops where it's business as usual.
    THis is a no BS deal at some big places. My old boss a few years back used to be "director of entertainment" I shit you not! LoL

    How he got from there to managing an all new Mazak shop across the world is beyond me, but he did tell us some stories about taking VP's and such to dinners, hockey games, etc...

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    Ask for problem parts, either difficult tolerances or high prices. Don't ask for their normal production that is running smoothly. Once you do get a part to make I always would call up the engineer who designed it to talk about the part for 3-5 minutes. Anything about this part not on the print? How is the part located? Oh, dowel pins in 2 holes, well what holes and what type of fit do you want? Take an interest in making sure the part you make fits their needs as best as you can. There is almost always much more info on the part than the print shows. I NEVER bitched about a part being hard, I always called those parts fun. Yes calling the engineer is risky, some may be a bit pissed, but IME 9 out of 10 ended up fine about it and I made some damn good contacts that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    THis is a no BS deal at some big places. My old boss a few years back used to be "director of entertainment" I shit you not! LoL

    How he got from there to managing an all new Mazak shop across the world is beyond me, but he did tell us some stories about taking VP's and such to dinners, hockey games, etc...
    you need to be real careful who you're dealing with though. A guy I know's brother just got out of federal prison for pulling the same shit with a gov contractor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    THis is a no BS deal at some big places. My old boss a few years back used to be "director of entertainment" I shit you not! LoL

    How he got from there to managing an all new Mazak shop across the world is beyond me, but he did tell us some stories about taking VP's and such to dinners, hockey games, etc...
    The old boss that used to give out brown envelops to PA's also had 4 season tickets at center ice. He never went he always gave them away to customers.


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