That Led Zeppelin song keeps resonating in my head when I think about the economic conditions that drive a Buyer’s Market vs a Seller’s Market.
Being in the Procurement profession for a significant portion of my career, I’ve seen a number of both – relishing in the good times. Buy-downs, Savings and Value-Added Reports were relatively easy and the performance rewards, well . . . “Life was good”!
During the bad times, however, well we all know what that’s like – Tums, Ambien and/or the additional Martini at (not so) Happy Hour.
Conversely, I did a short stint as a Business Development professional – a rare and fortunate experience for a tried & true procurement guy, one that I have come to appreciate, having learned that Sales is not as easy as it looks from across the table. You see, a few years back, a good friend told me “Joe, you’re nothing more than a salesman trapped in a purchasing guy’s body”. I thought about that for a while and figured that I’d seen virtually every sales technique . . . “how hard could it be”?
Well, I’m here to tell you, my forehead is exactly plumb after having doors closed on it and from the occasional banging on the walls as a release from frustration. I am, however, proud to say that I did enjoy a good measure of success as well! Being allergic to pain, that career tangent was short-lived and I’m back on the reservation and in my comfort zone.
Now that I have returned to the Supply Management side of the business, the knowledge gained has become invaluable and not in the sense that may immediately come to mind. Sure, it’s useful to have a better insight in to the tactics, strategies and motivations of a sales professional, however I keep the presence of mind that while times may be good for me, he or she may be stopping by the local drugstore picking up the prescription for nighty-night pills.
Being fair with Suppliers in your good times goes a long way in your bad times, 9 times out of 10 your counterpart will reciprocate!