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Pricing People vs. Purchasing People

We spoke with Chris Provines, a well-known expert in the pricing community and the author of several books. The title of one of those books—Selling to Procurement—was also the subject of our interview.

In any type of competitive endeavor, it’s important to know your opponent, right? And in the battle over your margins, it’s clear that today’s procurement professionals are becoming increasingly formidable. According to Chris:

I’ve worked in purchasing. I have a lot of friends that work in purchasing. Typically, they’ll invest a couple of weeks in negotiations training for each and every person in purchasing. So, if you work with a sales organization or lead a sales organization, think about how many weeks, or even days, of negotiations training your salespeople have received?

And about the sophistication of today’s purchasing teams, Chris goes on to say:

Over the past decade they’ve gotten very smart at sourcing strategy and negotiation tactics. It’s not just the training but now they have tools, and they have ways to approach the market that most sellers don’t even understand. They really are putting lots of pressure on people who are ill-equipped—and most organizations are ill-equipped.

While the interview with Chris, Being Fearless When Facing Procurementfocused heavily on how procurement professionals are able to “work” our salespeople to their advantage, I couldn’t help but wonder how pricing professionals would fare in the battle?

  • Are pricing professionals better-equipped to deal with sophisticated procurement strategies and negotiation tactics?
  • Are pricing professionals better-able to defend margins against an opponent trained to negate any sort of differential value?
  • Are pricing professionals as knowledgeable about procurement strategies as procurement professionals are about pricing strategies?

I can’t say with certainty that they are. But I am confident in saying that they definitely should be.

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