"Effective (... and impressive) buyer". Training project for defense industry
Working as a category manager for automotive company I used to deal with stakeholders across Europe. My peers, other category managers were located in France, Germany and Spain. One of them was a very LOCOMOTIVE type of person – his way or no way. However, knowing him well I wasn’t surprised that very often his ideas and initiatives were right and he was quite successful. Unfortunately his behavior was creating some tensions and conflicts within the organization. The root cause was not poor performance but how he used to work. Some may say the most important is performance but actually the style of cooperation with stakeholders is equally important. Often people could support a new initiative but they reject it. The reason is that they do not identify with it. People don’t like when decisions are being taken behind their backs. They are against because they were not involved and not because they don’t like it. Probably colleague of mine could have been even more EFFECTIVE if he was more collaborative and engaging stakeholders more often.
Obviously crisis situation, like Covid-19 requires special behaviour. Often actions need to be taken quickly and there is less time for consultations comparing to peaceful times (do they exist at all in procurement?). However, in general a good buyer or a category manager should be a leader rather than a person imposing his ideas. Business can straighten him out quickly. Colleague of mine was kindly asked to continue his career outside of the company...
Based on good and bad experiences from the time we were buyers and category managers our team have prepared for the Customer from the defense industry training "Effective (... and impressive) buyer".
What does it mean to be EFFECTIVE? It seams to be quite straight forward – buyer needs to deliver business objectives. They can be specific to company, industry or category. However, to make it happen effective buyer needs to have portfolio expertise, market knowledge, to understand trends & capabilities of suppliers, customers' expectations, internal limitations, cost structure, future needs, etc... All of them build up his CREDIBILITY.
Effective and Impressive because the style how you work really matters.
And what does it mean to be IMPRESSIVE?
According to Cambridge Dictionary:
“If someone is impressive, you admire or respect that person for their special skills or abilities”.
In Eveneum we believe it’s not enough for the buyer to be Effective it’s very important how he collaborates with the stakeholders. Style really matters because the buyer needs to lead the organisation in the space of supplier relationship. There are plenty of posts on LinkedIn that can help with understanding the difference between managing and leading.
Buyers need to have an entrepreneurial mindset to identify and make the most of opportunities, overcome and learn from setbacks and accept responsibility for outcomes of their actions.
We have developed for our Customer the training linking together effectiveness and abilities to effectively collaborate with the business and reinforcing:
- An entrepreneurial mindset. Buyer needs to manage his portfolio like a business. He needs to make it competitive and successful.
- Ability to generate “positive ado”.
- Proactiveness and being close to the business. Join their team meetings. Do not expect they will do it voluntarily.
- Caring attitude. If it’s not a buyer who cares about his stakeholders there will be somebody else who will gladly take care of them :).
- Ability to challenge stakeholder’s demands and the status quo while cultivating proper relationship.
- Respect and readiness to accept different perspective. Have you ever considered the possibility that you might be wrong and not them? :).
- Strategic approach and finding balance between operational and strategic activities.
- Sales skills.
If it’s not a buyer who cares about his stakeholders there will be somebody else who will gladly take care of them :).
Do you wonder who that is?
To maintain the good flow of the training, make it engaging and clear for participants we have organised it around three blocks:
- Soft skills
For each of them we have proposed tools, shared our real life examples and participants had a chance to instantly apply them to their business cases.
The list of key take-aways:
- Don’t wait to be invited to dance by the stakeholders – be proactive. Engage with internal & external business stakeholders to understand their needs, capabilities, challenges and priorities.
- Not only serve the business but if you want them to treat you like a PARTNER tell them what you expect from them! Agree together what they need to do for you.
- Find the right balance between operational and strategic activities. For sure you have plenty of urgent tasks that need to be completed for yesterday but “what is urgent is rarely important and what is important rarely is urgent”.
- Keep your promises.
- Prepare your game plan, invite and consult stakeholders so they see you control the situation.
- Define the process for strategy development. People are more likely to accept your ideas if they see there is a process and methodology behind.
- Ask 5 x WHY
- Understand their WIIFTs
- Practice your sales skills
During one day training in the GreenBox studio, using Eveneum’s methodology and toolbox participants were working on their real life challenges. Last but not least part of the training was the elevator-pitch and practicing sales skills. It was a real TRAINING on the JOB. At the end of the session they had new ideas and actions to be taken right from the next day in the office!
We had only one day but the final result tells you everything => NPS 9,83/10,00!
Head of procurement, aerospace engineer
Head of procurement, aerospace engineer with 20 years in strategic sourcing. Managed teams of strategic buyers and category managers at the regional and global levels. Responsible for the project “Why Purchasing?” promoting procurement as a function. In Eveneum he is involved in consulting projects and customized trainings. He is specialized in automotive, aerospace, defense and energy industries. Trainer at the European Institute of Purchasing Management and lecturer at the Jagiellonian University.