Twenty five years ago, as part of my lifelong study of how brains make decisions, I realized that new decisions shift the status quo. All decisions, therefore, are basically change management problems.
Before new decisions get made, the status quo – the underlying system of rules, beliefs, relationships, etc. – must (by the very nature of homeostasis) buy-in to the proposed change or it will resist and push back. And the time it takes for buy-in to occur is the length of the change cycle. Or, in sales, the length of the sales cycle.
I was running my start-up at the time and noticed that staff didn’t have the flexibility they needed and prospects took far too long to make buying decisions. Before this I had been in sales for many years and had just assumed that buyers were making dumb decisions. But in my company I realized the problem: within people systems (as in all systems), the status quo prevailed regardless of the efficacy of the need to change. Any proposed change either didn’t happen, or it took too long. The system certainly pushed back when it felt attacked – rightly or wrongly.
HOW BUYING FACILITATION® GOT DEVELOPED
I then spent quite a bit of time developing a decision navigation method (much like a neutral GPS system) that would help people navigate through their unconscious and conscious criteria to get the internal buy-in necessary to comfortably change and consider adopting a new solution. I added this skill set to all communications with my team, clients, partners, and prospects.
With prospects, it helped them get their ducks in a row and helped them manage relationship issues, internal politics, old vendor issues – whatever would have to happen to tolerate change (which is what a new solution is). I realized that as a sales person my prospects were doing this anyway – without me, and very inefficiently – as I waited for them to buy.
This method is based on brain function: how brains store information, and how criteria for choice can be discovered and re-weighted. I uncovered the systems behind the sequences of decisions, and developed a new form of question (Facilitative Question) as the main skill, along with Systems Listening.
By using this method, I made it possible for sellers (or managers, or lawyers) to act as a GPS device – and a servant leader – and help people navigate through all of those mysterious behind-the-scenes places they’d need to get buy-in from (many not related to a problem, need, or solution choice) before they’d change, or buy.
I had to name this methodology, and decided not to use a ‘sales’ term since the method was not a needs assessment or solution placement skill, but used as an adjunct to sales. I decided to call this Buying Facilitation® as a way to
- differentiate it from sales and sales vocabulary
- keep it close enough to sales so that sellers would recognize an agreeable complement
- use the term ‘buying’ as it was close to the ’buy-in’ necessary as part of change management.
I used this model to help buyers recognize and handle their buying decision issues, but also to manage staff, take care of problems with my husband, and run meetings. I realized at the time that it was an ubiquitous methodology useful for all people to make their own best decisions (I eventually coined the term a ‘decision facilitation’ model as a way to describe it), from criteria-out rather than from information-in. In my own business, it helped buyers buy somewhere around 800% more efficiently- I doubled my business every year.
Through the ensuing years, I refined the method. It now includes many unique skills that can be taught to enable parents and children, doctors and patients, sellers and buyers, colleagues at meetings, to work together and make choices based on agreed-upon criteria that is often unspoken, but necessary to include as a decision gets made. It operates as a Change Management function with unique skill set that I have trained in dozens of organizations (about 20,000 people) as part of sales training.
BUYING FACILITATION® HAS VERY UNIQUE SKILL SETS
Here are some of the unique skills that comprise the Buying Facilitation® method model:
- Listening for Systems;
- Decision Sequencing;
- Formulating Facilitative Questions [note: Sharon-Drew coined the term Facilitative Questions but did not trademark that term. It involves a very unique capability to use different parts of the brain to gather and manage unconscious criteria so new choices match beliefs and get buy-in for change. This term has now been co-opted into the world, and has been redefined to be just another term for ‘questioning.’ Outside of my programs, the intended meaning/usage has been lost]
- Formulating Presumptive Summaries
These skills are quite complex, as they are skills not consciously used in conventional thinking or decision making, but mirror what is actually happening when decisions get made.
For most of the last 20 years, the word ‘facilitation’ was generally not used within the sales universe. In fact, when I used it as part of my company name (Morgen Facilitations, Inc), my training programs (learning facilitation), and my change management consulting (change facilitation), I was made fun of for using a term no one understood. “Too long a word” I was told.
Recently, the field of sales has developed a new focus on buying decisions, buying support, and the buyer’s journey – all things ‘buying decision’ oriented. Unfortunately, the term Buying Facilitation® appears to be similar to other terms now being used to define a solution-focused buyer’s journey.
For those hoping to use the term Buying Facilitation® to represent that part of the vendor and solution choice process buyers go through as part of their purchasing decision, I offer the following choices:
- buying decision
- buyer facilitation
- buying decision journey
- buyer’s decision process
- buyer’s journey
- buying process management
Or if you want to use Buying Facilitation®, use the term properly defined, as I have defined it in 7 books, over 1000 articles, 450 blog posts and 100 newsletters over the past 20 years, on my websites and very very thoroughly in my latest book Dirty Little Secrets.
Like Facilitative Questions, if this term is not protected to define the method, it will get subsumed and become just another set of words used in sales, rather than a change management methodology: a very unique, complex set of skills that sellers can use to help buyers navigate through their off-line, non-purchase decisions.
To set the record straight, here is the legal definition:
Buying Facilitation® designates very specific set of systems-based skills that help buyers (and anyone) navigate through the full range of their behind-the-scenes change management and decision issues – usually not need- or solution-related but based on internal relationships, politics, rules, etc. necessary for change: pre-purchase, pre-needs assessment, pre-solution choice…pre sales.
To get a complete understanding of the method, get my latest book Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.
Join Me Tomorrow Free Webinar, Focus Roundtable: March 22, 4:00 PM ET – Has Selling Become Very Complex?
Or listen to Sharon-Drew’s audio learning that shows you how to facilitate prospecting, problem solving, change management, and fund raising conversations.