Do you have what it takes to be a successful buyer?

I’ve written a lot about the skills required to be a successful buyer in today’s world. But today’s blog post will focus instead on qualities – attributes that are more related to one’s personality rather than their ability to learn a skill. 

When you’re dealing with dozens or hundreds of vendors, things will go wrong. To be a buyer, you have to have “thick skin.” As much as smart buying can help minimize these problems, things will still go wrong.

Even if all of your suppliers have six sigma capabilities, that still means that they will produce 3.4 defects per million opportunities. One of those defects may be an order of yours!

So you have to have a personality that can withstand unexpected problems. Don’t take them personally and let your emotions take over. You can’t be the type that has a coronary at the slightest anomaly.

What is important is to focus on fixing the anomalies, starting with diligently pursuing resolutions. However, one can’t handle each resolution the same way. I’ve seen a lot of buyers make mistakes in this area.

Some suppliers are chronically bad and are most responsive when taken to task, military-style. But other suppliers are committed to quality and customer satisfaction and will take corrective action as an immediate priority. They don’t need to be barked at. But unseasoned buyers sometimes go barking away. And that’s an error in judgment.

When a problem arises with a supplier, you have to ask yourself, “Can I get the same results in the same timeframe by being collaborative as opposed to combative?” If so, do not rip the supplier’s head off! You hurt your reputation and may forever damage your company’s relationship with that supplier.

The bottom line is that today’s buyers must be capable of dealing with problems professionally. If you’re not, then another profession may be right for you!

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