Matthew Geekie, Senior Vice President, Secretary & General Counsel at Graybar Electric Company Inc. discusses the key aspects of what he is looking for when purchasing a new service.
What are some dos and don’ts for selling to a GC?
No surprises. Get straight to the point. And most importantly, listen. I appreciate that salespeople have a hard job. So, I want to be respectful of their time, and I want them to be respectful of mine. What is it you want to sell me/my company/legal department? How will it make the lives of my team better? The company better? And why should I choose you to help me solve this challenge?
What information do you find most valuable in the purchasing process?
To move forward with a purchasing decision, I need confidence that a vendor can and will deliver on its promises. Demonstrating a successful, proven track record is important. A reference or recommendation from someone I know and respect is even more important.
“I appreciate that folks selling have a hard job. So, I want to be respectful of their time. And, I want them to be respectful of mine.”
How important are testimonials, analysts, etc. in your decision making process?
For me, a quick overview of data and a case study or two can be helpful in gauging whether or not the vendor is a good fit. Once we get into the due diligence phase, we need more data, as well as external comparisons and third-party benchmarks to help us make well-informed decisions.
Can you share a particular story when you had a positive or negative buying process?
A particular vendor, with a good reference and story, wanted to do business with Graybar, but failed to listen to what we were asking for. They essentially ignored what we, as the prospective client were telling them about our company, culture, and needs. We gave them two bites at the apple and they still blew it.
Who are the key constituents when looking to make a purchase? And who is part of the buying process?
Within the Legal Department I look to everyone to recommend purchase/improvement opportunities for their respective areas. Whoever makes a proposal has to champion the cause. Depending on the nature of the product or solution, we often include other groups, such as IT, HR or finance, to participate in the buying process.
How do you decide if a product is worth purchasing? How do you validate the need?
This is a combination of factors, including data, references and a good cultural fit with our team and our organization. As an employee-owned company, we also take a close look at the business case and return on investment associated with a product. We want to make smart buying decisions that support the long-term health of not only our department, but the entire company.