Sourcing is an essential part of any supply chain. There are many different attributes and traits that a successful sourcing professional needs.
An excellent sourcing professional needs to be someone who can build and not tear down the relationships required to get the products’ quality, price, and quantity that you need. Professional sourcing needs to understand the product while at the same time having the mathematical, technical, and analytical skills required for them to source products successfully.
Here are our top 10 skills that we feel a successful sourcing professional needs.
Relationship skills are a soft skill, but it is also a skill that is very important for every sourcing professional. Relationship skills are essential because what you will do as a sourcing professional is about building relationships and trust with others.
If you are mean or do not treat people well, they may not sell to you; if they do not like you, they may be willing to do that extra bit. In my home decor and home furnishing industry, that little extra bit can make all the difference between the success or failure of a product. People want to work with people that they like.
To correctly source a product, you must have product knowledge. There is so much technical understanding and know-how in any product purchasing decision.
Professional sourcing personnel needs to have the proper product knowledge, or they need to have the ability to know where and how they can obtain that knowledge. Having this knowledge also helps them to be able to assess whether or not a supplier will be able to get them the quality, quantity, and price that they require so they can make the right purchasing decisions.
To be a successful sourcing professional, you also need to have the ability to research. Throughout my years in Asia, I have found that some of the best sources are often not showing at the Trade fairs or even on social media. Sometimes, some of the best sources we see are the ones we had to search for or use our connections to find.
A professional sourcing expert needs to have the ability to research and dig down deep to find the best possible resources.
Sourcing professionals need to have excellent analytical skills. A sourcing professional is going to have to be able to dissect a lot of data and to be able to understand that data will come in to make the best decision possible.
When you are working with sourcing, you need to understand numbers. You need to know the FOB cost, what it will cost to do the shipping, and what it will cost to get the product to the end customer or your warehouse. An excellent sourcing professional needs to understand all of these things and be able to easily calculate them when they are looking at the pricing of the products they are sourcing.
An essential skill for the professional sourcing team is negotiating with their suppliers. Negotiation is a refined skill as it requires you to know precisely when to push a supplier and when you need to pull a supplier. To be a good negotiator, you need to read the other person and understand what more they can give to you to get a fair price.
When negotiating, sometimes, it is best to fold up and walk away. Other times you need to be able to sit at the table to work out a solution. An excellent sourcing professional understands when they need to do each of these in their negotiation tactics and which one is best for them to use.
Today most professional sourcing professionals also need to understand the culture they are buying or sourcing products from. In our home decor industry, many products are being made overseas. Sourcing professionals need to have some cultural understanding of where they source their products from.
A cultural understanding will help them better understand the companies and factories they are buying from and will help give a lot of goodwill between them and those manufacturers.
So much of sourcing today is done through technology. An excellent sourcing professional needs to be tech-savvy and understand basic computer programs. No longer is it just about knowing excel or word, but many other programs and other technical skills are needed.
Professional sourcing personnel needs to have in-depth industry knowledge. The experienced sourcing personnel needs to understand what they are buying, where they are buying it from, and the acceptable quality and price for the industry standard.
Whenever I go to the factory, I always want to see the area where they are packing or ready to load a container. I like to check the cartons to see who they are selling.
A good sourcing professional should understand their industry and understand some of the top names and the carton markings or brand names. Understanding this can help them know what the factory can do or not do and what quality level and the price the factory is manufacturing.
Understanding all of these things takes a great deal of industry knowledge.
To be an excellent source in professional, you also need to be an ideal collaborator. Sourcing is only one part of the supply chain process.
To be a sourcing professional, you should be able to be a team player. Sourcing and procurement decisions are usually made with a team and not just one person. An excellent sourcing professional can collaborate with others for all their sourcing and other needs.
Sourcing, especially global sourcing, will require some degree of patience. It may take your time to get some answers that you need, or you may need to have patience with another person as they may not speak English as their native language, so you may not fully understand what they are trying to tell you.
Sourcing is an essential part of any supply chain. It is also the one part of the supply chain that requires quite a few different skills to find the correct sources. It is not always easy to find the products you need at the quality, quantity, and price required.
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