Loyal and…

The responsibilities of managing the procurement, for goods or services, include one detail that is not taught in school: dealing with a salesperson. This very fact would deserve a book dedicated to the potential customers (i.e. buyers). Being a salesperson is a rather tricky position to fill (to me anyway), and learning techniques seems endless. Speaking with a friend who just changed jobs, he mentioned he was going to the big city (i.e. Toronto) to get some training and learn about the new products he is going to sell, in two weeks. That sounds pretty intense to grasp about the company, the client base, the culture, the products… and the level of dedication to the company (and likely the customers) from the other sales team members.

A book on the topic almost sounds futile, as the relationship between a salesperson and a buyer (or purchaser, category manager) shines through many subjective facets (which, funnily, makes any categorisation fairly ambitious). Curious about what had motivated my friend to change companies, I asked him for a deeper elaboration. His take was straightforward: the past commission’ structure had left him disengaged over time. Yet, he was still one of the top sellers in the company: “I am loyal, and the expectations from my company were met.” Time, however, caused some damage to the reverse equation: he felt his expectations from the company were not fairly reciprocated.

Now, interviewing a senior supply chain director from the forestry industry, referring to his company’s culture, the word loyalty came up too, quickly followed by trustworthiness. Having worked in purchasing for over 30 years, he met many salespeople: some just passed by, and he still works with some other ones, having built trusting relationships. Only once, however, because that salesperson had abused his trust over a potential contract, he had to cut that person off from reconnecting with his company (and any other branch, for that matter). He saw that person’s behaviour as a breach he could not forget: not as a person, but as a professional.

A salesperson will never sell him/herself short, and that is only logical. Demonstrating loyalty and trustworthiness (to a company, a product, a service, a group of people, or a single person) demands some integrity with oneself, whether it being for a salesperson or a buyer. Although I am not a fan of putting all my eggs in the same basket, I certainly appreciate the opportunity to continue working with reliable and transparent partners (from suppliers to customers). Yes, loyal and trustworthy are “big” words, and, even if it is just business, as long as algorithms stay away from calculating negotiations scenarios, we are still human with some willpower.