Changes in the B2B market happen all the time. Nowadays, the required skills to be a good buyer are an outcome of the accelerated pace of transformations, a long maturation process in the area and crises faced by businesses. ⠀⠀⠀⠀

As the relevance of the procurement area increases in organizations, the demands of the job market for such professionals are also growing. In fact, to be successful buyers now, it isn’t enough to get the lowest price: they must add value and innovate too.

To stand out among their peers, both technical and behavioral skills deserve attention in a buyer’s career. Therefore, they must constantly seek and recycle their knowledge, and develop those skills that employers are looking for.

In this post of ME’s blog, we’ll address those key skills the procurement professional needs to develop a successful career.

Enjoy the reading!

  1. Knowledge of strategic sourcing

Strategic sourcing is a method used to evaluate the complexity of finding certain products, consumer goods or services in the market, versus the impact of that choice on the business. In other words, it’s the practice of continuously improving the purchases of a company.

Through this analysis, you can check internal and external costs, supply network and levels of provided services, for a given product group, and then plan specific and strategic actions that can meet the organization’s needs.

Strategic sourcing can be the key technique to minimize supply issues and delivery delays during this international crisis, for instance.

  1. Engage to sustainability

The modern buyers deem sustainability and ESG issues – environmental, social and governance – as a vital process of their procurement strategy.

But to put this desire into practice, and actually contribute to society’s most pressing issues, they shall go beyond the creation of responsible supply policies.

In procurement, becoming engaged to sustainability means being willing to pursue ethical and transparent partnerships, focused on a shared commitment.

Additionally, a sustainable procurement area helps its suppliers to develop and thrive; and even considers changing what must be changed in favor of this cause.

In this sense, one of the most required competences is the ongoing improvement of processes. From now on, it’s crucial not to be afraid of changes.

  1. Search for trends in the market

For some time now, the procurement area is no longer a department solely aimed at purchases, and today it’s one of the key actors in the creation of new products and services for a company.

Therefore, to stay competitive in such a fierce market, the buyer must be aware of trends and look for innovations that can add value to the product and/or service.

In procurement, innovation isn’t associated only to the creation of products or the implementation of new raw materials, but also to the integration of digital solutions and automation of processes.

It’s important to think that, many times, a possible innovation can be found during a visit to your supplier, for instance.

Another point is that in the procurement of the future – which is closer than we can imagine – consumer behavior will determine procurement strategies. Keep an eye on it!

  1. Adaptation to new technologies applied to the procurement area

Any buyer who accepts technology as an ally in procurement processes can be very successful throughout his/her career. Digital platforms optimize processes, which were previously slow and bureaucratic, helping the buyer to be more strategic and important to the company’s business.

According to a study by the Hackett Group, an international consultancy firm, procurement areas that use 4.0 technologies are able to achieve a cost reduction of up to 17%. However, when they truly accept digital transformation – that is, a change in the mindset, and not only the use of a given technology, in a specific manner – they are able to reduce expenses by 45% or more.

Professionals who know how to use each one of them, in their daily life, will certainly be one step ahead of their competitors, and ready to serve the market in the best possible way.

  1. Find cost-cutting opportunities

Cost reduction is one of the most relevant factors in the procurement area. After all, R$1 saved on procurement means R$1 profit for the company.

How much do we spend? What do we spend it on? Who do we spend it on? When do we spend? Questions like these can be answered with spend analysis, within the strategic sourcing methodology.

Spend analysis helps the procurement area to identify cost reduction opportunities, and its application shall not jeopardize essential aspects of the business.

In addition to understanding strategic procurement methodologies and spend analysis, to cut costs in the area, the buyer will have to master negotiation techniques.

The use of digital procurement solutions, such as e-Procurement (Procure-to-Pay), for instance, allows the buyer to conduct intelligent negotiations, have access to spend analysis and achieve more savings.

  1. Knowing how to relate with suppliers

Technology is the rule for business, but relationship is just as important. Buyers are unable to keep good deals without a proper communication and customization of the service of their suppliers. Most organizations survived the recession period thanks to their knowledge of how to relate to others.

Knowing how to treat suppliers as partners can bring a host of benefits. Companies can get better prices, better delivery times and also stimulate collaboration between the parties – which also favors innovation.

Many companies have already understood that collaboration between companies, in a supply chain, helps to promote long-term and promising coexistence. Such interaction, when supported by technology, eventually creates a closer relationship and leverages it further, thus promoting governance and compliance for businesses.

  1. Make decisions based on metrics

In procurement, to be more agile and assertive when making decisions, you must consider the KPIs (key performance indicators), such as savings, lead time and productivity, among others.

It is through the KPIs that the procurement area can access to the scenario of activities, thus allowing the buyers to have more chances of making the right choices.

In other words, when accessing the indicators, professionals leave the field of assumptions behind, to give way to data intelligence at those times when they must plan or act.

This analytical competence, added to intuition, experience and observation, compose a powerful combo for successful professionals in the area.

  1. Risk management in the supply chain

No business is untouchable. Threats are inherent to everyone and, when come to risks, there are those that we can predict and avoid, and those that just happen and force us to act quickly, so the impacts are minimal on business and society. Therefore, the successful buyer must always have a contingency plan, in case something unexpected happens.

A buyer who doesn’t manage risks can hardly stay in evidence in the company. For those who aren’t very familiar with the term yet, Risk Management is a set of activities with the purpose of managing and controlling a company against potential threats.

Planning should include alternative supply sources and stock levels, considering also a possible drop in demand of products or services.

  1. Governance and compliance in the supplier matrix

Compliance is a hot topic among buyers, within their very companies. Most of them are familiar with it, but few appreciate the bureaucracy that involves the subject. After all, it’s often seen as an obstacle, something related to simply obeying, adapting and placing oneself within an established rule format.

Organizations are looking more and more for transparency, regarding their internal / external processes and negotiations. Successful buyers understand the importance of compliance within the procurement processes, and know how to take advantage of it, using it as a competitive edge in everyday work.

A relationship with suppliers that abides by new regulations and legal obligations (such as SPED and Anticorruption Law, among others) adds much more value to the supply chain, decreasing risks and assuring a win-win relationship.

However, assuring compliance within processes isn’t enough; governance must be also in place, to ensure that the partners will follow a series of rules to preserve negotiation integrity.

  1. Develop and improve behavioral skills.

Technical knowledge had been very relevant in the past. Today, it’s no longer enough in the career of any professional.

In the procurement area, soft skills (behavioral skills) are among the most required skills from professionals, particularly for procurement leaders.

You might now be wondering: how can I develop my behavioral skills? Some key points are to seek self-knowledge and develop active listening; and also always thinking and pondering carefully before making any important decision.

Tip: observing people and their attitudes in different situations can help you in the development of your behavioral skills in a more assertive way.

Do you agree with the 10 skills to be a successful buyer? Have you some more to add? Tell us in the comments field!

See you next time! 😉