During my tenure as a procurement professional, I saw the number of fundamental mistakes that companies in the workforce solutions ecosystem make when selling to large organizations. From overstated product value propositions — way more common than most providers would like to admit — to simple lack of follow-through, the list of mistakes is long. There is a host of reasons one company may lose or gain business. However, there are some real opportunities to change behavior to avoid some fundamental mistakes providers make. Here are four such opportunities to make a difference.

Professional alliance. Early in my procurement career, I confused the attention paid to me by suppliers as a reflection of my personal worth — until my manager explained that this attention, while flattering, was mostly directed at the function I held. These relationships are based on the fact that providers are generating sales while building their businesses. While I count some of those supplier partners as friends, that came after interacting and establishing a relationship over a period of time. Buyers do the same, and suppliers need to remember this. Respect the boundaries. It takes more than donuts delivered at the reception desk or a hastily scrawled birthday card to move beyond a transactional relationship.

Genuine commitment. If there’s one element I learned to value above all else, it’s trust: Being able to trust the rep you are working with as well as the organization. You want to rely on the fact that the company will deliver on its promises and back it up with account support. Trust is so hard to get but very easy to lose.

It goes a long way when the rep demonstrates an understanding of the sometimes tenuous role of a procurement person and shows a genuine interest in the person he or she is interfacing with. Here at SIA, my team and I pride ourselves first and foremost on being committed to the individual success of each and every one of our clients. After all, it’s through them that we are able to provide value to the organization they belong to. Make sure you coach your account reps to understand this.

Overstated value. Conveying value is very nuanced. On the one hand, you want to put the value of your product or service in the best possible light, but on the other, you run the risk of affecting your perceived legitimacy if your value misses the mark significantly. So many suppliers promised huge efficiencies or vast improvements in cost or quality, but the promises rarely matched the outcome. The key is to provide realistic estimations of value with qualified assumptions. You may not be able to avoid giving hard numbers altogether, but perhaps you could focus on ranges.

Budget limitations. All your customers have a budgetary reality. Even a billion-dollar company can’t just afford to spend big bucks for your product or service without a care. “If they really valued what we do, they would be able to find the money” — that’s a perspective of people who have never worked in a cost-center function, one that isn’t tied to an end product or doesn’t have a direct relationship to revenue generation. For example, HR or procurement departments — important as they are — are part of a cost center.

Most contingent work decisions at the enterprise level are made by director- or senior-level managers with limited spend authority. To work with this, you need to build a value proposition that appeals to the company’s leadership or align yourself with functions closely tied to generating revenue in the organization.

Successful sales are a function of knowing your audience, understanding your limitations and being aware of your unconscious biases and assumptions to deal with what is, as opposed to what you want the situation to be. By understanding this reality, you can set your team up for continued success.