In my last blog, I discussed the journey your buyers need to go on to source their needs:
- “Awareness” – understanding you have a “need”
- “Research” – deciding how to fulfill that “need,” including the “what” and the “how”
- “Consider and buy” – executing on your purchase
- “Receive and adopt” – enjoying all the benefits of your purchase.
In this blog, I will discuss the emotions associated to every step of the buyers journey.
How do emotions play a role?
Just as marketers leverage emotions to drive buying decisions, procurement professionals can use emotions in a similar way. While a frictionless procurement process generates a simple lack of frustration (positive emotion) that ensures compliance, leveraging the relevant information (both positive and negative) to drive social acceptance on a buying decision can also help.
For example, solid reviews or a feature article on the tool our engineer needs will help them in their research. These opportunities could come from an internal product review site, an online technical portal for technical parts, research material, an online chat service, or by simply improving your newsletters. Whatever it is, each of these opportunities helps your employees make the decision you want them to make.
For most organizations, customer satisfaction isn’t the main objective of procurement – it’s about keeping costs in check. As you better understand the buyers’ journey, you’ll find opportunities to make your procurement process truly seamless as well as helping to drive process compliance that guide your buyer’s decisions.
Prediction is key in creating “need” awareness
In many cases, it’s difficult to predict a specific need for a specific time or circumstance. While implementing certain solutions across your organization, a piece of new plant equipment might be needed to provide some additional forward visibility. Therefore leveraging machine learning and predictive analytics tools can deliver enhanced and more accurate prediction capabilities.
The research step is one that many organizations have limited visibility on. However, questions asked around the life of particular critical assets may provide insights into impending requests.
To this end, procurement starts before a request for a new piece of equipment is even logged. For example, by monitoring the health of key equipment your employees use, you can anticipate new equipment requests further in advance, and guide your employees – or plant engineers – down a path to purchase equipment from key suppliers at a cheaper price. This ensures they are happy with their purchase and are more likely to use that buying path again.
However, it is important you have a solid change management program in place to ensure your employees are aware of what options are available to them. These options need to be maintained and easily linked to procurement whenever your employees decide to make that all-important purchase.
Simplifying and tailoring consideration and buying
This step needs to be easy to navigate to and buy. Too many or too few items in a catalogue, complicated approvals, and a poor user interface can lead to poor user adoption and compliance, resulting in increased maverick buying. Buying also needs to be aligned to the specific circumstances of each user group. For example, a field engineer might not have access to the internet to request what they need in an emergency, and may therefore require additional support.
Don’t neglect receive and adopt…
While “receive” needs to be as simple as possible – procurement needs to consider adoption, even if it is technically outside the realm of procurement. This step needs to ensure that your employees still get the support they need to use their new product successfully. If they don’t get this from you or your suppliers, they’ll go to someone who can give it to them.
So, to succeed here you need to keep the entire buyer’s journey in mind. You need to guide your employees towards the purchase you want them to make – even before they know they want to purchase something. Doing this successfully will then enable you to provide the support they need when they need it – without needing to worry about them getting the advice they need from somewhere else.
The buyer’s journey + emotions = success
There can be no doubt that emotions play a key role in the buyer’s journey. Yes, they may be impossible to predict, but there are still tangible steps you can take to help guide your employees to the purchases you want them to to make.
However, we know buyers can change their minds on a whim, so remember this quote from Dorian Grey if your employees do change their mind on something you want them to buy: “Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.”
Read another blog in this series entitled “The emotional rollercoaster of procurement.”
Greg Bateup has worked with clients to deliver business transformation and BPO services for almost 30 years. For the last few years, Greg has focused on the digital transformation of the source-to-pay function, and how organizations can not only drive efficiencies in the procurement function, but also drive compliance and savings.