Closing the deal has become secondary to establishing your account and following the proper procedures

Allan BonnerThere are 500,000 procurement officers in North America. It’s obvious they were not procuring before and during the pandemic.

Yet procurement officers have professional (sic) bodies, co-procurement agreements, hold conferences in sunny spots in the winter, and so on.

Sales professionals (sic) are similar mysteries. Having spent decades providing services in the marketplace, which have paid my mortgage, fed my family, sent kids to schools, and so on, I have a perspective on sales and customer service. Having spent the last few months procuring (buying) lots of stuff (six figures), I have a renewed respect for my opinions on the subject.

My concerns are far past the many companies requiring customers to register to receive a callback, have no phone number on their websites, no hint of where they’re located, no voice mail, a requirement that you know the extension or person you want, a hang up when you press “four” for sales, and so on.

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Consider the humans involved way past the program writers in Korea, Japan, or Silicon Valley.

In the olden days, a human “closer” was someone who could close the deal. The difference between more sales blather and a deal often was a pen, contract, place to sit, and so on.

Today, few are able to close. All my recent purchases have been in the thousands of dollars. Some suppliers take e-transfers, others wire transfers, some credit cards, and then there are the “others.”

Some want my company name and address before knowing what I want. Yet I’m in a different jurisdiction with delivery to a different location. The salesperson (sic) states he wants to know who he’s doing business with. How about my name and credit card number? A potential supplier of $30,000 worth of goods says he was swamped over Christmas and is now really ready to go. It’s been four months, Christmas is long over, and he’s not made the sale.

The salesperson (sic) who takes the cake, though, was someone I asked to take an e-transfer, wire transfer, or credit card number, and let the money sit in his account for a week, look at his balance every other day, and then fulfill my order. No, he preferred I “set up an account” with no instructions, links, or attachments with which to do so. Then he asked for company and personal information, which he said he had none of even after several emails and calls providing same. One of the items he wanted was a purchase order (PO) which I have never issued in 40 years in business.

I tried to break the log jam by reiterating that I’d provide the money to consummate a deal. No, he stated, “Payment is secondary compared to establishing your Account and following our Procedure.” I provided all information requested except for a PO. I have not heard back from the salesperson (sic).

Let me repeat – a business person (sic) and salesperson (sic) found payment to be secondary to filling in forms. Worth pondering.

Allan Bonner was the first North American to be awarded an MSc in Risk, Crisis, and Disaster Management. He trained in England and has worked in the field on five continents for 35 years. His latest book is Emergency! – a monograph with 13 other authors on the many crises that occurred during the pandemic.

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