10 things political leaders can learn from successful buyers


The European leaders’ deal with Turkey with regard to migration made me think of this post. What could political leaders learn from successful buyers? 

In my journey to the combination of business transformation and coaching I have thankfully used my lessons learned from procurement. And I have to confess I still can learn a lot from procurement when it comes to financial decisions in my private life. Read what political leaders can learn from successful buyers.

  1. They know what they’re buying

Prior to buying activities such as tendering and negotiations, professional buyers do first their homework. They do an intake with several stakeholders to get a clear picture about what they are supposed to purchase. They set the package of requirements before going to market.

Some political leaders set first the deal at the bar, in the airplane or during a conference and then think about the requirements. But then it may be too late to fix. If a president gets back to another president, saying “I’m sorry Mr. President I’m afraid I’ve been too fast with the deal the other day and we have some issues…” The other president may say “What is your word worth Mr. President?” I believe, some (political) leaders insist on setting bad deals just to protect their pride.

  1. They often ask/repeat a particular question

There is a very simple but powerful word even junior successful buyers use which may change the whole package of requirements. It is the “Why”. When professional buyers do not understand a requirement they simply ask the sponsor, why do you need such an equipment? Why should it be X, Y or Z? Why would you fix the contract for 3 years? Just give it a try. The core requirement comes out when you ask 3x times or more the why word.

  1. They don’t agree on things they don’t understand

Successful buyers set only deals at least they understand themselves. If you ask a professional buyer why they have agreed with X or Y, they will have a solid story line which demonstrates their conscious choices.

  1. They take an expert to negotiation table when necessary

That’s fair, you can’t know everything about everything. As a buyer you are expected to collect requirements, lead negotiations and set contracts. And no, as a buyer you can’t be aware of each and everything. Successful buyers take an expert (i.e. production expert, telecom architect or financial adviser ) with them to the negotiation table when they do not have that specific knowledge. It is about being well equipped as a negotiation team.

  1. They prepare their meetings

Successful buyers start with the end in their mind as well said by Steven Covey. They make a list of what their negotiations is supposed to end with. They know what is the required minimum and what is nice to have. If they do not achieve their minimum required results, no deal will be set.

  1. They believe in giving and taking

Successful buyers do not believe in taking whatever they can. They know business is all about giving and taking. If you take the max you can today, there will come a day you will be giving the max the other party can take. Successful buyers set creatively win-win deals by giving and taking.

  1. They don’t set contracts with open ends

Setting open ends in contracts means asking for trouble. And professional buyers know this. Imagine, you have purchased a set of machines for your factory. If one of the critical machines gives up, you want to have it fixed quickly. How would you like to have it covered in your contract? If you have agreed on for example “Priority one calls will be fixed as soon as possible” then you have an open end and so in trouble. If you have agreed on for example “Priority one calls will be fixed within 2 hours as of noticing.” then you have a clear agreement. Clear definitions of fundamental components of an agreement are very crucial (for example what does priority one call mean?)

  1. They don’t buy unnecessary stuff, managing emotions

Successful buyers can sometimes be accused for not being sensitive. However, the bottom-line is that successful buyers purchase what they and their organizations need and not what is nice to have. They set priorities and fulfill the highest need of the organization first. They simply set the requirements first (what is really needed) and then find the best match on the market.

  1. Their meetings start with agenda, ending with action list

Most of successful buyers have a busy schedule. Therefore, they don’t set unnecessary meetings. When they set a meeting they will have an agenda, distributed prior to the meeting. And the meetings of the professional buyers end with an action list. Those of you I have had the pleasure to work with know my template for action list (No. –What – Who – When).

  1. They make data-driven decisions

Professional buyers prepare their contract award recommendation very well. They demonstrate what they have done during their journey to the deal. What are the requirements? Who have been involved? What has been discussed? What have been the options? What option is the most supported by buying team and why? So, in fact around 80-90% of the choices buyers make are data-driven.


About the author

Hamid Safaei is the founder of ImOcean Academy. He is a qualified executive coach helping executives and high potentials unleash their potential. Hamid has led successful business transformations for a number of Fortune Global 500.

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