In his only novel – The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde wrote: “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” If only your employees had Dorian’s strength to conquer their emotions in sourcing their day-to-day needs.
But what have emotions got to do with procurement? Well, the answer is everything!
Before I go into the actual emotions of the buyer’s journey, consider the journey your buyers go through to fulfill their needs. Take, for example, a plant maintenance engineer who needs to repair a piece of manufacturing equipment. There are four key buying steps our engineer will go through:
- Awareness – understanding you have a “need.” Often, this “need” results from a problem that needs a solution. In our engineer’s case this would be a halted production line. Sometimes the need is very specific – for example, a bill of material specifications generated after the production run. Or it may be as general as needing a chair to sit on to do some work. Furthermore, some needs are predictable. Leveraging machine learning and predictive analytics can help you predict the demand for specific products based on past consumption and a variety of factors that will impact this demand.
- Research – deciding how to fulfill your “need,” including the “what” and the “how.” In a well-documented maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) environment, ordering new equipment should be as easy as “point, click, and order” – but often involves, for example, our engineer speaking to suppliers to identify a suitable replacement part, including lead time discussions and installation requirements. In organizations where the purchasing process is not clearly defined, your employees can waste a significant amount of time and energy on this step, especially for indirect purchases where catalogues don’t exist, are hard to find or navigate, and where purchasing policies are unclear.
- Consider and buy – executing on your purchase. Once the requestor has made a buying decision, they purchase what they need. This means our engineer may have multiple purchase routes, depending on the organization, tools, or commodity. These routes could include catalogues, sourcing requests, direct purchases, or contract call offs via online channels or an order desk. This is the only step that is considered part of the procurement function in most organizations.
- Receive and adopt – enjoying all the benefits of your purchase and product. However, the journey isn’t over yet. In most organizations, the “receive and pay” step of the buyer’s journey sits across the finance and procurement functions. But that’s where the process stops, and organizations need to be prepared to do more than just procuring and paying for critical pieces of equipment. Your employees – or plant engineers, in our example – will also need to know how to use the tool or components successfully, as well as support if something goes wrong. If any of this is missing, they will simply buy the equipment they need from one of your competitors.
But how do these four steps help your organization deliver more value through procurement? The buyer journey above shows how much of an emotional rollercoaster your buyers need to go on to satisfy their “need.”
While these emotions are different for every buyer journey, the principle is basically the same: how do you make sure emotions are kept in check and the buyer’s journey remains a pleasurable and frictionless experience?
In my next blog I will discuss how emotions play a role in the buying process and what you can do to increase the chances that your employees make that all important final purchasing decision you want them to make.
Read another blog in this series entitled “How emotions impact the buyer’s journey.”
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.