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Research Methodology:

The research methodology included personal interviews, focus groups, surveys and over 1,000 observations of the interactions between buyers and sellers. It also includes an analysis of the current training programs utilized by those in the buying and selling functions.

Participants in the research included senior executives from sales and purchasing functions, their management teams and those charged with day-to-day selling and buying responsibilities. It also included internal users and stakeholders who are affected by the decisions of the sales and purchasing functions.

The following represents the various activities and their purposes for the sales function, the purchasing function and the internal users and stakeholders.

Corporate Executives (Sales and Purchasing) - Interviews
The purpose of these interviews was to determine:

  •     How strategic initiatives are developed in each of these respective areas
  •     How these initiatives are communicated throughout their functional areas
  •     The performance measures utilized to monitor the effectiveness of the implementation efforts
  •     Perspectives on future business trends and challenges

Middle Management Group (Sales and Purchasing) - Interviews, Focus Groups, Surveys
The purpose of these activities was to determine:

  •     The enablers and inhibitors to implementing the strategic initiatives
  •     Factors critical to success in their respective areas
  •     The effectiveness of their sales and purchasing processes
  •     How training programs are selected
  •     The communication system utilized to transfer information among all affected personnel and functions
  •     The effectiveness of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems

Internal Users/Stakeholders, Field Sales and Purchasing Personnel - Interviews, Focus Groups, Surveys
The purpose of these activities was to determine:

  •     The various approaches utilized by field sales personnel in contacts with members of the customer organization
  •     The various buying practices utilized by the purchasing function when interacting with the suppliers' salespeople and their internal users and stakeholders
  •     The effectiveness of sales approaches and purchasing practices
  •     The internal users/stakeholders need assessment process and factors affecting total cost
  •     How effectively the users'/stakeholders' needs are addressed during the interactions of buyers and sellers
  •     Where improvements in the various sales and purchasing processes are possible
  •     Factors critical to a successful supplier-customer relationship
  •     The impact of the buyer-seller relationship on the quality of products produced and the productivity of the users/stakeholders
  •     The value of CRM and SFA systems at the "point-of-contact" level

Analysis of Current Training Programs (Sales and Purchasing)
The purpose of this analysis was to determine:

  •     The extent to which these programs deal with factors identified as critical to success
  •     How the effectiveness of these training programs are measured
  •     The various training delivery methodologies
  •     How the sales and purchasing training affects the buyer-seller "point-of-contact" encounter
  •     Where improvement in these training programs is possible

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