Rant Warning: Does etiquette still matter to vendors and buyers in eProcurement Part I of II

July 17th, 2020

Do not make the mistake of thinking eProcurement removes the human element!



Today’s post is by David Wenig, Senior Vice President of Sales and Services at SafeSourcing Inc.

I am going to get up on my soap box for a couple of minutes if that is alright with you…

Call me old fashioned, but I still try to interact following professional etiquette. It is not necessarily a written code, per se, but more a set of guidelines that have been embedded in my brain over years of training and real-world experience. I make a point to reply to emails and voicemails promptly either in the same day I received them or the next day if I really cannot return the communication faster. I try to include nice notes of thanks when working with customers or vendors who are trying to help me. It is not hard; these are just a couple of things that I do as a matter of professional courtesy.

But is there even still a need for this type of behavior? From time to time, I hear that the eProcurement process removes the human element from the negotiation and boils the whole procurement process down to a computerized negotiation. The last time I was told that, I decided to spend a little time considering that claim with an open mind.

I quickly decided that there is absolutely still a need for etiquette and professionalism in eProcurement. I will elaborate, of course, but I am still surprised I feel the need to.

  • Return communication in a timely manner. Pretend for a moment you represent a company that sells a product or service. Now, also pretend that it is your job to make sure that other companies buy that product or services. Congratulations! You are pretending you are in sales. With that in mind, you receive an invitation to provide quotes (RFQ) for $1,000,000 worth of the product or service you are selling. Bear in mind that you are paid based on your ability to sell. What do you do? SafeSourcing sends invitations like this all the time. The values differ, but you get the idea. Many of the contacts we send these to do not respond at all. It is not just that they are delayed or that they somehow missed the email. SafeSourcing’s associates absolutely hound these salespeople for a response. Sometimes it can take weeks just to get a vendor to engage and consider an opportunity to sell that we brought them on a platter with a little bow tied on it. This is such a systematic issue that we must accommodate that within our timelines. That means a salesperson who is non-responsive is technically causing a buyer’s project to be delayed. You might think that this is all happening on computers and in the dark, but we see your behavior.
  • Communicate with courtesy and respect. Sometimes I wonder if this is a lost art. In the example above, would you ignore SafeSourcing’s attempts to contact you or would you respond in some simple fashion.

That is the end of my rant for today. Because I do not appreciate when others criticize without offering suggestions, I will share my thoughts on how to address these issues in Part II of my post on Monday

For more information or speak with David, please contact SafeSourcing.

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