As a procurement professional and then as an industry advisor, I have worked with all kinds of suppliers. I have conducted numerous sourcing exercises, such as negotiating contracts and running RFPs on everything from office supplies and small package freight to travel services and cleaning supplies to contingent labor.

My diverse experience has taught me much about the marketing and selling process across multiple industries. I’ve seen humble sales professionals who were so creative and consistent in their sales process that they could cut through the noise, making the supplier selection process an easy one for the buyer. Conversely, I’ve seen sales pros being intransigent to the point where entire projects were cancelled.

As a business owner or supplier of staffing services, what can you do to make sure your staff are more of the former persuasion? Here are a few tips.

Master your product. Beyond listing its features and benefits, you must be prepared to consider future applications to the enterprise. This often requires you to be creative in its application. Mastering the product enables firms to see disruptive new approaches enabled by technology. Talent pools, direct sourcing and talent curation — particularly contingent RPO — are great examples of “new” approaches in the world of work. Often these are tailor-made opportunities for staffing firms. But you have to understand the marketplace, your product and the buyer’s needs to be able to provide that direction. Buyers need support in making sense of these new technologies, often finding the multitude of choices available in engaging them overwhelming. They are looking for trusted partners who can provide that expertise.

Know your flaws. Effective procurement professionals seek examples of service failures when evaluating suppliers. This often reveals honesty, transparency and a willingness on the part of the supplier to be proactive about addressing the inevitable. One such sales professional was very clear about his organization’s struggle in handling product warranty issues, acknowledging that its competitors did this better.

He came to our meeting and openly discussed how those issues would create challenges for clients. But then he highlighted their commitment to improvement and innovation. In fact, this yielded lowered systems costs and an improved overall buying experience. He also never apologized for those issues, and I respected that. Your approach should be the same — don’t overreach in your scope of delivery. If there are areas, skill sets or regions that you struggle with, be candid, while using that weakness as an opportunity to highlight your laser focus on other areas.

Value your product. It is the buyer’s responsibility to learn the underlying business models of the suppliers — and to understand that being cheap about paying for talent is often costly in the long term. But the fact is it takes time for some buyers to get up to speed, and for other procurement professionals the job is to push for discounts until the market says no.

The supplier should know where the money is made but also have a long-term view. I’ve respected suppliers who have said no and defended the value of their services. But not without making sure I understood how that value related to me. Maybe the quality of their product dictates a higher price point? Or there was an element of supply chain risk that was inherent to the deal in question. Defending your value is more than simply saying no to further price reductions. It’s about conducting an educational dialogue that expands a prospect’s understanding of your business, providing them with strategies to become a better client and one who is more deserving of the most competitive pricing.

Ultimately, being an effective sales professional requires a commitment to creativity, understanding, mutual partnership and trust. This helps change your reality as well as the buyer’s.