Category Management:  If You Don’t Know How to Sell, FUGGEDABOUTIT!


If you’ve attended any conference around the world where we have presented, the most surprising answer we give is to the question: who would be the 1st hire if we were starting a Category Management/Supply Chain organization? And the answer is:  a salesperson!!!  And the reason is that if you cannot “sell” your solutions to your stakeholders, you will never get them to adopt those solutions thus probably delivering negative value to your stakeholders.

The best solution, founded on the most in-depth research and the deepest analyses, is worth nothing if the “customer” does not Absorb (understand) it, Accept it, and Act on it – in other words ADOPT it.  Here are some critical points to remember:

  • Although Persuade / Selling is often positioned at the end of the consulting process, the process of persuasion really starts as soon as you begin interacting with Stakeholders
  • ALL consulting MUST lead to client action
  • Persuade is the REAL value added
  • Persuade starts very early in the process
  • Tools, techniques, skills, and process ALL build credibility which makes persuade easier
  • To be persuaded recipient MUST embrace logic of hypotheses
  • It’s easier to persuade along the way as opposed to at the end

Here is another way to look at this:sell

Many of our clients make the mistake of rushing into action because they are convinced that they have found the best solution (and they have).  Unfortunately, it’s a total waste of time because they have not taken the time to educate and align their stakeholders and are left scrambling when the return on the investment is not there AND more importantly they have lost credibility and trust with their stakeholders.

And you really don’t have to go too far to figure out how to do this-contact your marketing /sales department because the process of selling is fundamentally the same.  Here are the top 10 Principles they typically follow and they should be the same for you:

Principle #1: Identify your Market Segment (“Right” Stakeholders) & their Stakeholder Value Drivers (SVDs)

Principle #2: Know how the customer (stakeholder) likes to receive communication

Principle #3: Build the Brand (your organization, process, competencies etc.)

Principle #4: Selling the Product (your solution) 

Principle #5: Educate your customer (stakeholder)

Principle #6: Develop Effective Collateral

Principle #7: Establish a Need / “Burning platform” (Stakeholder Value Drivers)

Principle #8: Highlight the Value (focus on Stakeholder Value Drivers)

Principle #9: Anticipate Objections

Principle #10: Illustrate what Others have Achieved

In fact, use your sales/marketing department to help you craft a selling strategy and then use them liberally to help you execute it.  Ask them for marketing help, help in developing a brand and collateral, crafting the key messages.  Have them critique your presentation and ask them to help you determine your stakeholders and uncover their needs – just like they do with their customers.  By the way, not only will you get some excellent help but you ill also develop a great relationship with a potential “customer” or stakeholder for when you need to tackle the sales and marketing spend. 😊

And if you’re still not convinced, then here are some more reasons why you and your entire organization needs to learn how to sell.

  • Drive realization of Stakeholder Value Drivers
  • Significantly Improve internal communications
  • Spark support / enthusiasm for Category Management & its inherent Value
  • Justify investments for the Procurement function (new technology, tools, competency development, etc.)
  • Build strong collaborations between Procurement, BUs and Suppliers
  • Elevate Procurement as a go-to internal consulting practice
  • Establish your company as a “customer of choice” with your Suppliers

Sooooooooo, who would your first hire be 😊?


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