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29 January 2015

Procurement professionals "need to be able to sell"

Content team

The ability to sell is becoming increasingly important to procurement professionals, an industry expert has claimed.

Xavier Cassignol, chief procurement officer (CPO) at packaging company Coveris, recently discussed this issue at a procurement best practice event in London. He said it is important as purchasers must ensure they are attractive to suppliers, Supply Management reports.

"You need to sell your company, especially when you are not necessarily the largest in a specialist market. You need to sell your ability, and the size of the prize for the supplier," Mr Cassignol stated.

Also speaking at the event was Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply fellow Sean Clancy, who said procurement teams can no longer sit back and wait for suppliers to come to them.

"Our responsibility as leaders is to go out to those critical suppliers and say ‘You want to do business with us, and these are the reasons why’," he stated.

However, Mr Cassignol warned that many procurement professionals may lack the necessary attributes to sell themselves effectively. He suggested there is a lack of soft skills, such as listening and communication, which is something the function will need to address.

According to Mr Cassignol, much of a procurement leader's work is devoted to selling. He argued the typical CPO spends 80 per cent of their time trying to promote their ideas and plans to business leaders.

In December, a study carried out by spend management software provider Ivalua revealed more than eight in ten procurement executives see establishing better relationships with other business functions, such as marketing, IT and HR, as an important priority for the year ahead.

Developing a better array of soft skills would likely help the profession achieve this goal, as well as improving its attractiveness to suppliers.

Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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