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Product- negotiating with buyers

The trust that you have with your supermarket buyer is pivotal to everything that you are trying to achieve. You cannot get the latest category recommendations implemented unless the buyer trusts you. The buyer has made a judgement on how much they trust you and with each opportunity you present valued at a million or a millions, the performance of your business can be directly measured by the trust the buyer has with you.

As a former Category Manager for over 12 years at one of the big four UK supermarkets, Darren A. Smith, knew that some of his suppliers could be trusted and some could not. Like all of us – We trust some people and we don’t trust other people. This meant that choosing what to implement and what not to implement was about who presented it, as much as what they presented. Improving trust is one of those intangible tasks that will stay on your to do list for a long time and you’re likely to achieve little progress because the task has very little structure. Thankfully ‘How to Improve Trust with Your Supermarket Buyer’ will help with an equation.

Trust can be defined as an equation of 4 parts. This equation helps us to understand the ‘grey’ that is trust, into a more black and white definition. The 4 parts of the equation are: ‘Credibility’, plus ‘Reliability’, plus ‘Intimacy’, divided by ‘Self Orientation’.

Here are 4 ways to improve trust with your supermarket buyer:

1. Credibility: ‘I know my stuff’

When you speak about your category, your business, and the industry, ensure that you know what you are talking about. Credibility is about the other person believing that you are the expert on that particular subject. Identify which subjects you are asked about and yet know least; Supply chain? In-store operations? How the product is made? Then score yourself, out of 10, and ask yourself, how credible you are in front of a buyer on the top 3 subjects you are asked about.

Action: If your score is low find someone credible that you know on each subject and book a meeting to challenge them to improve your credibility.

2. Reliability: ‘I always deliver on time’

This part of the equation is about your actions and doing what you say you will and when you said you would. We’ve all been let down by someone who we know promises to do that thing when they said they would and yet we knew full well that they wouldn’t despite their words. Are you known as someone who does what they said they would? This is as much about clarifying the brief as it is about getting the right thing done on time. Most people are poor at delegation because what they had in their head, they either didn’t want to say or didn’t know they had to say it. Seek clarity on the task you have agreed to do by asking questions until you understand what has been asked.

Action: Score, out of 10, how reliable you are when you have been asked to do something. If your score is low your time management system is probably at fault – We can help!

3. Intimacy: ‘I know a bit about you and you about me’

In this part of the equation we deal with how safe and secure we feel about sharing information. Can the buyer keep a secret? Are you able to share confidential information without feeling compromised? We’ve all shared something in the past with someone and had it passed on without our permission, to have it then ‘bite’ us later down the line. Those people are never trusted again. When you feel safe you are happy to share things about how you spend your spare time, information about your family, and other private details about you. When you are not safe, we disclose very little.

Action: Score, out of 10, how intimate you are when you meet the buyer. If your score is low identify some things about yourself that you would be happy to share and share them.

4. Self Orientation: ‘I want to know more about you’

All of the good work you can do in the top 3 parts of the equation can be completely undone by your self orientation. How much do you talk about yourself? By talking about ourselves too much, our focus can be seen to be about us and therefore we are seen not to care about the buyer, their business, and their performance. The balance to strike is being open enough about yourself to be seen as intimate, whilst not over-doing it and seemingly only focussing on ourselves.

Action: Score, out of 10, how much you talk about them Vs yourself when you talk. If your score is low our Influencing with Impact training course will help because you will get direct feedback on your self orientation.

Category Management Carton - MBM

In our Category Management Training we discuss trust with our learners because no matter how hard they strive to improve their category performance on the scorecard, they will be limited by the trust they have with their buyer. To understand the trust equation further, your scorecard category performance and many other tools that will help you to improve your category performance please book Category Management Training for your team by Contacting Us.

For further reading on trust we suggest this book called, ‘Trust Based Selling‘.

What do you do to achieve trust with your supermarket buyer? Please share your view by commenting below.

Darren A. Smith

About Darren A. Smith

Darren has been working in the world of UK Supermarkets and Suppliers for over 20 years. He began his career as a buyer at one of the big 4 UK supermarkets and after rising through the ranks he decided to leave after 13 years and set-up Making Business Matter. For the last 14 years he has run MBM, which is a training provider to the UK grocery industry. Helping suppliers to the big four supermarkets to develop the soft skills that will secure them more profitable wins.

3 Comments

  • Matthew Streeter says:

    Very helpful article in defining where the key areas of trust in this environment are, and how to improve trust. Great scoring system too.

  • Aaron Hoang says:

    Credibility is such an important thing, one must know what they are talking inside and out to aid gaining maximum trust. Otherwise the other party may think they haven’t had access to 100% factual information, or that the party they are speaking to isn’t as well informed as they should be. Good read.

  • George Cartwright says:

    The other party needs to know that you are focused on them and not your own personal gain, so point 4 about self orientation is crucial. Helpful article, including important information on this subject with the very helpful ‘action’ points underneath each part.

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