A buyer ranting about silly vendors

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at a Procurement Conference. This is where small businesses are paired up in various forms of meetings with large corporate buyers. My topic was called “Twinning Your Competition: Why 86% of Buyers Can’t See the Difference”. After my talk, a very distinguished gentleman came up to me and said that he had really enjoyed my points in the presentation because he had been a buyer in multiple various roles all his life and was so frustrated with the things that I talked about in my keynote. So here is his email to me afterwards. I loved it and I’m sharing his email and info with his permission.

Chala,

We met yesterday at the Mid-States MSDC conference and I suggested some material for you to think about regarding your presentation “Twinning Your Competition”.

Basically what I suggested was to provide additional incentive to differentiate and focus, so you might try the following:

  • To recognize that everyone in the room is resistant to focusing because “My company DOES do everything for everyone, so how can you expect me to focus and differentiate….no way, man”
  • Now that you have told them “you get that”, and that change is difficult, you can offer them the best of both worlds:
    • Focus, because it’s the right thing to do, BUT…..also, because many purchasers of services are in fact looking for firms that DO specialize, because we don’t want firms that can do everything for everybody – EVERYBODY says that – differentiate!!
    • When you get your big chance…..PERFORM!! DO what you said you would do – meet the expectations set *. Then when you have established yourself as a trusted, results driven resource, THEN you can say something to the effect of “BTW, we heard you will be looking to have “X” done in the next few months, and we have a department/division that provides that service as well, and we perform that service just as well as we just completed “Y” for you.

Hope this helps

* BTW, I HATE with a passion the term “We will exceed your expectations” Just so you know, in reality, that rarely if ever happens. I would do back flips on the interstate (and give you half an hour to draw a crowd) if I could just have our expectations MET! The whole “We will exceed your expectations” is so oversold (at least in my world), that I don’t even hear when people say it, nor do I see it when it’s printed and then shoved in my face so I will be sure to see it. Just a thought about differentiation – because when I hear or see “We will exceed your expectations” I subliminally see at that instant “My company DOES everything for everyone”. To me, one is as bad as the other.

I’m off my soap box, Chala – have a wonderful day. It was great to meet you. Oh and yes, the presentation rocked!

Kevin

Kevin Forbes 
Director, Engineering

So do as Kevin says (and I say) and learn from people with decades of buying experience.

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