Six alternative names that buyers cannot shake off

May 19th, 2020
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While buyers are still associated with some (often incorrect) clichés, other ways of referring to them are starting to restore their image. The Buyer's Lab takes a fresh look at the role of the buyer through six carefully selected metaphors.

1) Bridge builder

First and foremost, buyers build bridges between companies. These bridges must be strong in order to withstand uncertainties and allow companies to interact freely. As you know, these bridges represent the relationships between a given company and its suppliers, which are maintained by the buyer over the long term.

2) External resource manager

This may not be the first time you've read or heard this expression to refer to buyers. In a way, this relates to managing supplier relationships, or in other words, the company's external resources. It also explains why procurement, over time, is becoming a strategic profession.

3) Innovation magnet

Buyers create value by bringing innovation to their company. To do this, one of their main levers is to harness innovation from their suppliers. Buyers must therefore be on the lookout for creative and innovative potential from their partners.

4) Business partner

This name is certainly the most well-known, and is the one that buyers identify most closely with. Business partners motivate their network and encourage collaboration and commitment among their stakeholders. This is a strong reminder that procurement no longer has just a supporting role, but is a strategic profession that offers added value.

5) Shark

This term originated from the traditional "cost killer" image. Today, the role of buyers is no longer limited to cost reduction alone, although it is still a key objective. Buyers now use other levers (total cost of ownership, supplier rationalisation etc.) to achieve their goals.

6) Killjoy

This is another way of saying that buyers are constantly nitpicking. However, this is an essential part of the job. To keep purchases under control, buyers monitor additional exchanges between suppliers and internal customers (unscheduled purchases, gifts etc.). This prevents corruption and ensures compliance with established processes.

These different ways to refer to buyers show how their role has changed over time, from cost reduction to value creation, relationship management and contribution to innovation. It is now up to each and every buyer to reflect these changes in their work.

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