A prospect of one of my coaching clients – the sales manager of a small manufacturing company – joined our coaching call at the request of my client Joe. Joe wanted me to use my Buying Facilitation method on the manager to find out why he hadn’t purchased a sales training program after 6 months of conversation, given he had an ‘obvious need’, and the two of them had a ‘nice relationship’. I don’t know what my client told him to get onto the call, but the man showed up with great humor.
‘How are you currently training your sales folks?’ I asked.
“We’re not. We bring them together once a month, discuss product, and complain about not closing sales. And give each other advice.”
‘How is that working in terms of the results you’re getting? It must be working well or you wouldn’t be doing it.’ I continued.
“Sure. We’re doing our numbers, and have been reaching them consistently for years. So we’re fine.”
‘And, out of curiosity, what has stopped you from buying from Joe and actually adding some new skills training somewhere along the way?” I asked.
“My boss doesn’t believe it in. He says that we’re doing ok, and why fix something that isn’t broken. I’ve tried to convince him that we need some new skills, but he won’t hear of it. I got on the call this morning with you to see if you could call him and convince him.”
‘I can’t convince anyone – especially people who don’t think they have a need and see no problem with what they are doing. If he actively wanted to speak with me I could help him expand his range of choices. But first, I’m curious about why you’ve stayed in a relationship with Joe, and discussed the possibility of hiring him to do a sales training with you if you knew you couldn’t buy any training from him,’ I said.
“We like each other. We’re in a relationship. Plus, you never know. We might get lucky.”
“And,” my client added, “I can tell he has a need, and I have the perfect solution, and I know they have money. I want to be there when his boss changes his mind.”
The Buyer Must Recognize A Need To Change
How many sales people are doing a ‘relationship’ sale, spending time learning about ‘need’ and ‘decision makers’, and pitching product, until the buyer ‘is ready’? And then sitting and waiting, hoping the sale will close?
Using Buying Facilitation and Facilitative Questions, prospects can be led to recognize a need that they hadn’t recognized, or recognize the action steps they need to take en route to Excellence, or discover who else needs to buy-in to choose a solution to purchase. A couple of generic examples taken out of their normal sequencing:
How would you know when adding new skills would give you the results you deserve?
At what point would you consider adding new skills to the ones your folks are already using successfully?
Facilitative Questions, used correctly, might open up possibilities that didn’t originally occur to the prospect. But they are not using ‘convincing’ or any form of manipulation; they merely are a series of sequenced thinking guides that help the person recognize what they need to consider as they discover if new decisions are necessary.
Convincer strategies, charm, good information, and possible ‘need’ don’t help someone decide something different. And until someone recognizes the desire to have something they don’t, and the internal system/environment (the people, the way they run their business, etc.) is ready, willing, able to bring in something new, nothing will happen. No matter the need that we recognize. And ‘convincing’ is useless: we’ve tried for decades to ‘understand need’ and ‘be right’ and all it has gotten us is a 90% failure rate.
If Joe used Buying Facilitation, he could have facilitated a different conversation with his boss – and helped the boss work through any issues he had about what success might look like with additional skills. He even could have helped him work through his own ego issues (How would you know that an additional skill set would add to what you’re already doing so successfully, without compromising all of the hard work you’ve done?). But trying to convince, trying to offer rational details and reasons when the other person has their own version of reality, just doesn’t work.
Stop selling. Help the buyer decide how to buy based on their own mysterious criteria – not on the need you perceive that they have. It’s not about you or the need. It’s not about you understanding their criteria. It’s about you doing something totally different from selling: truly facilitating their own discovery of their buying criteria, and recognizing the elements they must address as they change. It’s a systems issue, not a need issue.
To learn more about facilitating buying decisions from the standpoint of the stages buyers must go through before a buying decision, go to: www.newsalesparadigm.com and see if anything there will help you learn more. As always, we’re here to answer your questions about how Buying Facilitation can be added to your sales skills and help you close more sales.
Also, have a look at this week’s posts. On a myriad of topics, the blog will give you the tools to do business with integrity.