5 Must-Have Soft Skills for Procurement Success

Review five of the must-have soft skills for procurement that, if mastered, will supercharge your career and deliver professional success.

By Hugo Britt | July 11, 2023

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Here’s an open secret that every early-career professional should take on board: your hard skills will help you do your day-to-day job, but soft skills are the key to climbing to the heights of your procurement career.

Soft skills, as they’re traditionally known, are not ‘soft’ at all! They are the indispensable superpowers that elevate Sourcing Heroes beyond their technical prowess. The great news is that these people skills are increasingly receiving the respect they deserve.

Must-have soft skills for procurement

Let’s review some of the soft skills that – if mastered – will supercharge your career journey in procurement.

Empathy and effective communication, along with strong critical thinking and negotiation skills, will give procurement practitioners a competitive edge when it comes to advancing their careers.

The Power of Empathetic Engagement

Building strong relationships is paramount in the realm of procurement. This level of engagement – otherwise known as “relational intelligence” – goes beyond just networking; it’s about understanding others, actively listening, and empathizing with their needs.

By nurturing meaningful connections, you can forge strategic alliances, negotiate effectively, and ensure successful collaborations with colleagues, stakeholders, and suppliers.

The Magic of Effective Communication

The ability to communicate effectively cannot be understated in an age of information overload. Effective communication encompasses the soft skills needed to articulate ideas clearly, adapt communication styles to diverse audiences, and persuade stakeholders to embrace your proposals.

From crafting compelling emails to delivering persuasive presentations, your words will carry the power to influence and inspire.

The Gift of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a superpower that transcends mere number crunching. Critical thinking involves examining information, questioning assumptions, and drawing logical conclusions. It’s about assessing the reliability and relevance of data, detecting patterns, and identifying potential biases or gaps in reasoning.

By mastering this art, you’ll be able to make sound judgments, solve complex problems, and navigate through ambiguity with confidence to become a trusted advisor to the organization.

The Art of Negotiation

Negotiation falls under the umbrella of soft skills due to its emphasis on human interaction and the art of reaching agreements through collaboration and diplomacy. Negotiation encompasses the ability to navigate complex relationships, influence outcomes, and find mutually beneficial solutions.

Requiring empathy, active listening, and effective communication to bridge gaps between parties with differing interests and objectives, negotiation involves understanding the motivations and needs of stakeholders, building rapport, and finding common ground. Successful negotiators are adept at fostering relationships, adapting their approach to different personalities, and creatively exploring alternatives that satisfy multiple parties. 

Each negotiation scenario is unique, influenced by variables such as culture, context, and individual dynamics. It demands finesse, adaptability, and emotional intelligence to navigate the ebb and flow of conversations, manage conflicts, and ultimately achieve win-win outcomes.

The Spark of Curiosity

Curiosity is the spark that ignites innovation and fuels continuous improvement. Cultivating an inquisitive mindset pushes you to:

  • Ask questions
  • Explore new ideas
  • Seek alternative approaches
  • Uncover untapped opportunities
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Embrace emerging trends.

If you’re looking for a fantastic example of curiosity in procurement, check out episode 113 of The Sourcing Hero podcast, where Josh Palacios describes his curious experiments with ChatGPT, using the technology as a negotiation stimulator and category strategy drafting tool.

Unlock Your Procurement Potential

While soft skills may sound unassuming, they are the secret weapons that differentiate good procurement professionals from great ones. By harnessing these procurement superpowers, you’ll become an invaluable asset to your organization and embark on an exciting journey of professional growth.

Remember, though, your soft-skill superpowers are not given—they are honed through practice, persistence, and an unwavering commitment to continuous improvement.

While you’re perfecting the must-have soft skills for procurement success, check out our playbook with step-by-step instructions on how to improve the procurement process and increase cost savings:

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