“But I talk to everyone this way”: the difference between selling patterns and buying patterns

I recently had a Tab problem on my PC – you know, one of those annoying problems that needs technical assistance from someone, from some country, on the telephone. One of those calls where someone gives his name as “Jim” but it’s probably really Ricardo, or Raj, or Gallal, and his accent is a horrid mixture of Midwest and East Coast.

This guy was talking to me as if I had never been on a computer before: “Do you know where the backspace button is?” “Now hit Send.” I kept thinking that if I said, “Got it” “Did it” enough times he’d understand that maybe I knew how to follow higher level orders.

Finally my patience wore thin: “I’m pretty computer savvy. Do you think  you could speak with me as if I knew how to follow higher level directions?” His response:  “But I talk to everyone this way.” And I, given my high annoyance factor by then, said, “How can you really serve your clients if you don’t know how to speak in the language patterns they listen in?”


So here’s my question: What’s the difference between your selling patterns and your buyer’s buying patterns? Because if you don’t know the difference, and merely use your selling patterns, you will only sell to those people whose buying patterns match your selling patterns, and will turn off the rest. Regardless of your solution. Regardless of their need.

Think about the old telemarketing industry. They folded. The entire industry. Why? Their products were fine. The problem was their selling patterns were annoying. So annoying they were put out of business.

I had a monthly column in TeleProfessional magazine in the 90s. Every month for 2 years I told them that if they didn’t adopt a new skill set they’d be out of business. Every once in a while the editor would write a column telling people to read my column and wake up. Between the two of us we tried to save the industry. But they liked doing it their way, all the way to failure.

Right now, sellers are losing a lot of business because of many reasons:

  1. the vast array of choices on the  internet;
  2. meeting clients too late in the sales cycle to have influence;
  3. buyers find different/creative solutions they hadn’t originally thought of;
  4. the economy is forcing them to use internal resources as much as possible.

Flexibility is urgent now.


By using your conventional, habitual selling patterns – say, calling for an appointment, or calling and asking about needs immediatelyand THEN asking for an appointment – you will only sell to those prospects who buy the same way you sell. It’s uncomfortable otherwise, and given the range of possible choices they have, they would prefer not to deal with someone that makes them uncomfortable.

When you use Buying Facilitation®, there are no selling patterns. You are merely using Facilitative Questions to lead buyers through the behind-the-scenes decision issues they would need to address if they were to seek excellence. “How are you currently adding new sales skills to the ones you’re already teaching your sales folks?” “”How would your Buying Decision Team know if it were time to consider training a broader range of skills that would incorporate into what you’re already doing successfully?”

These sample Facilitative Questions (used in a specific sequence that matches decision making) show you how it’s possible to interact with a prospect to get them to begin their change journey. Because if they don’t know the answers, they can’t buy anyway.

Here are some Facilitative Questions for you:

What would need to happen to start using your buyer’s buying patterns from the first call? From the first moment of the first call?

What would that look like? What skills would you need? What would you need to understand before you begin learning Buying Facilitation® to recognize the possibility that you might get more business doing it that way?

What would you need to know or belive differently to be willing to begin your calls collaborating around excellence, rather than trying to sell a solution?

Stop trying to start your conversations with a solution/sale focus. You’re wasting a high percentage of your time with folks who will never buy (over 90%); you might as well start with helping them discover how to want to be excellent. And then you can sell. I’m not suggesting you not sell. I am suggesting that you first teach buyers how to buy.


Sharon-Drew Morgen has been coding and teaching change and choice in sales, coaching, and leadership for over 30 years. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation®, a generic decision facilitation model used in sales, and is the author of the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity. Sharon-Drew’s book What? Did you really say what I think I heard? has been called a ‘game changer’ in the communication field, and is the first book that explains, and solves, the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. Her assessments and learning tools that accompany the book have been used by individuals and teams to learn to enter conversations able to hear without filters.
Sharon-Drew is the author of one of the top 10 global sales blogs with 1700+ articles on facilitating buying decisions through enabling buyers to manage their status quo effectively.
She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com or 512 771 1117.


1 thought on ““But I talk to everyone this way”: the difference between selling patterns and buying patterns”

  1. Great point about the tele-sales world.  

    I would suggest that the reason that business growth is broken is that the patterns we pursue are inherently selfish.  

    Sure random phone calls are annoying.  So is any system that is applied without a high degree of emotional intelligence.  

    Facilitating the buying process is a good first step.  But truly caring about the decision makers makes you even more effective.  

    Processes are flawed by environment variables.  Some of those variables are impossible to manage.  Ever.

    The remedy is kindness to the PEOPLE in the process. 


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