Buyers Live in Systems

The sales model ignores the buying environment all buyers live in outside of the purview of the seller. All buyers live in systems that must buy-in to a new purchase, regardless of the apparent need, and here is where sellers lose their sales.

Let’s understand systems to begin with. A system is complex, adaptive, and eco-systemic. Families, companies, groups, and teams are comprised of, and defined by, unique, complex individuals joined together by an accepted set of rules that function interdependently to maintain the status quo. It’s both mechanistic and idiosyncratic: given the rules and idiosyncrasies, every system is uniquely and similar.

The mainstay of a system is that each aspect has behavior and output that can be replicated and counted on. When one of the pieces no longer serves the greater whole it gets ejected and replaced only when something of equal import not only is available to replace it, but when the rest of the system allows it in, knowing the new piece will operate within the same rules and cause minimal disruption.

Selling Vs. Facilitating The Buying Journey

Let’s think of this in terms of your buyers. When you discover they have a problem your solution can resolve, the sales model digs in to ‘understand’ if/how the need matches your solution. You work at educating your buyer as to how your solution will enhance their functioning, fix the problem, and in general do things much better than they are doing them now.

But the sales model, with its focus on placing solutions, ignores the fact that buyers live in systems. And because it’s within a system, the buyer’s problem has:

  1. Existed as it is for a period of time;
  2. Has been incorporated into the mechanisms, rules, functioning, and status quo of the system;
  3. Is not an isolated event;
  4. Is attached to and by unknown – and unknowable to us – other systems components that not only have created the problem, but maintain it daily.

As a result of the systemic nature of the buying environment, it will continue to do what it’s been doing until the entire system knows how to change congruently. And that, my friends, is the length of the sales cycle. This is what you sit and wait for. This is why buyers appear ‘stupid’ when there is an obvious match between your solution and their need. This is where buyers go when they say ‘I’ll call you back.’ This is why your good prospects disappear.

Your solution most likely – and in a world free of systems – would resolve the buyer’s ‘problem.’ But they haven’t been able to manage a systemic fix until now, regardless of the problem (which has become an operating fixture within the system), or they would have fixed it already.

Buyers Have a Systems Issue, Not a Need

Buyers have a systems issue, and treating the need as if it were an isolated event does not help them figure out how to buy. If one person’s job would be on the line with your solution, if current business partners or vendors would have to shift their relationships, if one person really wants a different solution/vendor, if one person in the chain of change has a bias against you or your solution, they may not buy, regardless of the solution/need fit.

The sales model merely manages solution choice, and does a great job of it. But have you thought about the reason that the sales model consistently – over decades, throughout industries and price points and selling models – merely closes 7%? It’s because the entire front end of the buying decision path is ignored in the sales model.

I’ve developed Buying Facilitation® which gives sellers a new set of tools to facilitate the systemic buy-in journey. It works together with the sales process. It’s a change management model that can be employed on the first call and get you onto the Buying Decision Team immediately as a true trusted advisor, relationship manager, and coach. In fact, it (believe it or not) eliminates resistance, objections, and long sales cycles.

Think about a buying decision as a change management problem, and yourself as a facilitator. Then use Buying Facilitation® AND sales to close more sales faster.

About the Author

Sharon-Drew Morgen is a visionary and thought leader, speaker, trainer and author with best selling books such as “Selling with Integrity”  the NYTimes Business Best Seller and the best seller “Dirty Little Secrets” that explore the buying decision path and different aspects of the behind-the-scene issues buyers must manage before they can buy. To learn more about Sharon-Drew, visit her on

7 thoughts on “Buyers Live in Systems”

  1. Pingback: A buying decision is a change management problem | Sharon-Drew Morgen

  2. Sharon-Drew, I agree with your observations and thought you might want to see (if you haven’t already) this Forbes article:  

    1. alan – thanks for sending. however, the problem remains the same: the article merely focuses on the ‘need’ and ‘solution placement’ end of the buying decision path which has little to do with the solution choice. the author hasn’t gotten as far outside the box as he needs to to recognize the internal, off-line, behind-the-scenes change management issues that must be managed prior to buyers even knowing how to think about a solution choice. note that the sales model does nothing whatsoever to manage this. sd
      Sharon-Drew Morgen | 512-457-0246

  3. Pingback: Buying Patterns, Buy Cycle, Buying Decisions | Sharon-Drew Morgen


  5. Sharon-Drew Morgen

    Take a look at my most recent article on Information. Also, re my breakdown of buying decisions, etc. (as per comments below) I believe I have opened up new territory in my Buying Facilitation(r) model in that I have created a replicatable model to facilitate the decisions and change within the system (i.e. the non-solution-related issues buyers must handle internally before they can buy, or they face chaos… and sales does nothing whatsoever to facilitate this. Instead, they close those who have already done it (i.e. the low hanging fruit.). Buyers have to ‘manage change’ with us or without us. With Buying Facilitation(r) it can be with us. But it is NOT sales.

  6. Pingback: Buying Patterns, Buy Cycle, Buying Decisions - Sharon-Drew

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