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What buyers really care about during Covid-19

05 June 2020  
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Friday 5 June 2020

 

For sellers, understanding your buyers’ needs and priorities is key to winning new business at any time, but especially true now, during the coronavirus crisis.

At this morning’s compelling webinar, hosted by the Association of Professional Sales (APS), sellers were given a buyers’ view of the market which revealed there is much less focus on price, and much more concern about securing supply.

Jonas Olsson, who has decades of purchasing experience as a senior procurement executive, told sales professionals that because of the pandemic, companies want local supply chains, and don’t want the risk of having one supply source.

He explained that under-pressure customers may also ask for longer payment terms but delivery was the top priority.

Olsson, the founder of Provente Consulting, based in Sweden, told his online audience that at times of crisis, procurement has more power, but “at the end of the day procurement doesn’t make the decision”. In 99% of cases the end user makes the decision. They are the most important.

“Make sure customers trust you, you give good solutions and good service. You are there for them and will hold their hands all the way to the finishing line,” said Olsson.

“If you are a family doctor you have to look at each individual family member and find the best solution for them. It’s the same with a customer. You have to look at the different parts of the customer organisation, finding out what’s good or bad and how you can help with your solutions in the different parts of that organisation.”

If procurement is threatening to throw you out of the process, make sure the key stakeholders understand you are the reliable partner who can be there for them and deliver.

And Olsson also advised sellers to hold the line when procurement get tough.

“It is my job as a buyer to be the crying baby,” he said. “I am going to continue to cry and whine. But If you [as the seller] are not firm to your children when they want Saturday candy on a Tuesday, they will continue to cry and ask for candy until you say a firm no. You cannot say ‘maybe, I will wait and see’. Be firm. They know. The second you say no to me as a buyer I will start to respect you more.”

And during the coronavirus crisis, Olsson offered a further three tips to keep winning:

1: Refresh past ideas and go back to your customer to see if, working together, you can implement them.

2: If you are the sole supplier, see if you can bring in a second factory that can supply the same thing. Procurement is not necessarily looking for two different supplier brands. They want to de-risk their operation by having two different locations.

3: Beware of letters from buyers asking for rapid re-pricing, saying it will improve your relationship if you cut your prices. “This is baloney,” said Olsson. “You will not become a better partner by giving away a lot of things. Give out as little as possible. Sometimes just say no. Think about the crying baby.”

But he acknowledged with surprise that the hit rate of such letters can be amazing. He said a businesswoman in Slovenia sent out 600 of these letters and 550 of her suppliers agreed to cut their prices.

The session part of our Lockdown to Looking Forward series was hosted by @Ben Turner at the @Association of Professional Sales.

Click here to see our programme of events and book your place. Our Covid-19 masterclasses are free and open to the whole sales profession. https://the-aps.com/page/Events