Buying Facilitation® has already proven successful in changing the ways sellers consider and make sales. Read the Case Studies below to learn more.
Winning the RFP Business
Years ago I did a Buying Facilitation Method® program for a now-defunct group at KPMG. Before working with this team, they were using 2-4 people, spending between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and spending weeks creating large, glorious presentations to woo and wow the prospects as part of their proposal responses. They won 20% of the business.
That means, they wasted 80% of their time (and either had to hire more people to make up the slack, or not have enough consultants to deliver and close real business).
How could they know, before spending time and effort, which of the proposals were in the winning 20%? Or even expand that percentage to, say, 40%?
The sales model does not help with this, as it assumes that if gather the right data and ‘understand’ the problem, you can give great data and service to whomever shows up as a prospect and win the business. But that is obviously false: the sales model fails 93% of the time in conventional selling, 99% of the time when using marketing automation, or 80% of the time when there are only a few vendors receiving the RFP – more than 80% when there are many vendors (proposals of lesser-known companies win about 10% of their proposals).
When my client – let’s call him Dave – told me he and a few others were working ’round the clock on a proposal after receiving an RFP from a large airplane manufacturer who had historically used the now-defunct Arthur Anderson, I asked him why the prospect wasn’t going to use AA again for this job? He had no answer, but he called them:
DAVE: Why aren’t you using AA for this job?
AIRPLANE COMPANY: We are. We just needed a second bid.
Obviously, this was not going to be KPMG’s business. So instead of writing a proposal, we carefully went over the RFP and discovered all of the assumptions within, that weren’t being addressed as part of the RFP, recognized the change management issues they would have with the implementation, and realized the buy-in issues many of the departments were going to experience as they faced massive change and disruption once the project was underway.
We put together a list of Facilitative Questions on a couple of pages, such as:
- How will you know when you have the adequate amount of, and appropriate, buy-in before you begin, to diminish any disruption as you move toward implementation?
- What would you need to do, prior to choosing a vendor, to know if one vendor over another can build an implementation to avoid disruption entirely?
Instead of sending off a proposal, we sent the FQs. Of course, AA won the business. But 6 weeks in to the project, they fired AA and called KPMG to come and do the work. Why?
When we saw your questions, we realized we had not considered the implications of bringing in this type of change. When AA was not addressing these issues, and moving ahead, we realized we would potentially have a disaster on our hands as many of our folks weren’t buying-in and we had not properly managed the change. We would like you to take over, and start with the change management issues before you move ahead with the work.
Sales folks assume that buyers merely need info about a solution on your RFP. But they are using your proposal to gather the data they need to manage the change. Instead of responding merely at the solution level, make sure your RFPs address the change implementation problems your solution will incur. Who knows: you might not even need that proposal – especially if you use Buying Facilitation® on them before you get the RFP and they know how to choose you over the competition because you’ve used Facilitative Questions on them throughout your sales cycle.
Because if a buyer knows exactly how to choose one vendor over another, or one vendor has helped them (before choosing a solution) consider solutions for all of the internal change issues that must be addressed as the solution is implemented, they would not need an RFP.
The above originally appeared as an article on SharonDrewMorgen.com: Winning the RFP business: a case study
Before Presenting, Enlist the Buying Decision Team
If your team had some needs, would you bring in solutions without giving them a say in the solution choices? Why not? Probably because you need to understand their change criteria, need to ensure a solution fits with everything else in their daily operations, and need their buy-in – different activities from choosing the solution.
And yet the sales model merely handles the solution choice, ignoring the change management end of the decision path. Here is an example of how it’s possible to do both, and make the sale.
WHO NEEDS TO BE PRESENT
I recently had a coaching call with a SVP at a well-known CRM Management company. He wanted help maximizing an on-site meeting with a prospect, a hardware company with a sales force of 1500. Here is the dialogue we had:
SDM: Who’s going to be in the meeting?
SS: 10 people: the heads of sales and marketing and their teams.
SDM: So you’ve got 2 people.
SS: No! Ten! It took me 2 months and 3 meetings to set up this meeting.
SDM: But only 2 members of the Buying Decision Team will be present. Who else would need to be on the Buying Decision Team?
SS: Well, the head of technology, obviously, but he loves our solution. Besides, he’s only an influencer.
SDM: So if he doesn’t want a CRM system, the company will ignore him?
SS: No. They wouldn’t buy. I guess that makes him a decision maker. I wonder who else they have to get on their Buying Decision Team.
SDM: Not only do you not know, but they don’t know yet either. Let’s start with users.
SS: There are 6 user groups. I guess we’d need their buy in.
SDM: Yes. And I’m curious about the tech group. Your solution has a complicated implementation process. Does the tech team know they will need to free up folks for the implementation? Or are they going to outsource all of this? Or some combination?
SS: I have no way of knowing that.
BUYERS DON’T KNOW THEIR INTERNAL CHANGE ISSUES – BUT YOU CAN HELP
SDM: That’s correct. And neither do they. And until they figure that out, they cannot buy your solution. In fact, until they have the entire Buying Decision Team on board, they can’t buy. There are too many people who need to have a voice, too many unknown decisions to make, too many buying and implementation criteria to take into account. And you can’t be directly involved in doing these things for the prospect because you are not an insider. But you can lead them through their decisions so they have a path to follow. Otherwise you can wait until they figure it out themselves.
SS: So tomorrow’s meeting will have too few of the Buying Decision Team members, and giving them a big presentation right now is wasting my time and theirs: they don’t even have all of their buying criteria. This is why my sales take years to close. What do I do tomorrow?
SDM: Let’s help them figure out how to manage all of the issues we just discussed. And, at the end, if they still want a bit of your presentation, it’s fine. So long as you understand that their needs might change once all of the Buying Decision Team members have a say in the outcome. Obviously the tech folks will have different purchasing criteria than the sales folks, and the users won’t want anything new.
Until or unless all of the members of the Buying Decision Team are on board, the buyer can not know their full set of buying criteria – or even the full definition of their need. When sellers go in and first attempt to ‘understand need’ or even ‘know who is on the Buying Decision Team [useless data as an outsider is not an influencer on the Team]’ or offer solution data, they are wasting a lot of time and delaying the buying decision.
Facilitate buy-in, manage change, and help gather the correct Buying Decision Team members first. Then help them all figure out their buying, buy-in, and change criteria. Use Buying Facilitation® skills to add to your sales skills to manage this first. And THEN you can focus on the need and your solution. And close a lot more sales a whole lot faster.
Peter Casebow, CEO GoodPractice
Three months ago we were a successful business in our ninth year. Even in the midst of the recession we were making profits, which for company in the training sector was great, but…
Making new sales was very hard work, it always had been and we’d never in nine years been able to create a steady stream of predictable sales. Our solutions are loved by clients (200 of the UKs leading organizations). Almost 90% of them renew their license. So clients love the leadership and management toolkits, but new business took too long and often we didn’t really know what was actually happening in terms of progress. To paraphrase a typical prospect “this is a fantastic solution, I’m really interested”, but then nothing happened. We struggled to find a compelling reason for the prospect to move.
We brought Sharon-Drew to Edinburgh for a week and started to train the team in Buying Facilitation®. I wouldn’t pretend it was anything, but a tough and difficult week as we all had to go back and question our mental models of how we listened, regarded change and approached developing new business. Throughout the week Sharon-Drew challenged and supported us with huge personal commitment and respect and for the following 8 weeks she coached and cajoled us as we took Buying Facilitation® on board.
- We used to think you had to get meetings to sell – now we phone people up and have great conversations and we’ve closed new business without ever meeting the client.
- Sales used to take 3-6 months – now we’re closing sales in 3-6 weeks.
- We didn’t know where the sale was with the prospect – now we are part of the buying team and are fully informed.
- Price was thought to be the issue – now we are finding far less price sensitivity.
- We couldn’t predict sales – now we have a strong predicable new business pipe which is closing regularly.
Would I hire Sharon-Drew again? Without a moment’s hesitation!
Michael R. Neece, Founder & CEO InterviewMastery.com
After having used your methodology for many years in multiple settings, I felt compelled to share with you my experience utilizing your facilitation process. I’ve read two of your books and attended one of your workshops, so I feel I have a reasonable understand of your strategies.
I first used your facilitation method while a recruiter then later in executive level business development. The recruiter role is a pure sales role where I had to sell on both sides of the selling equation, the hiring company and the job applicant. Utilizing your questioning framework allowed me to rapidly understand the documented and hidden position requirements from the hiring manager. Questioning and listening in this manner also achieved competitive differentiation from my competition.
In executive level business development, your facilitation methodology again proven critical to establishing strategic partnerships with companies that were often several times larger than the firm I was with at the time.
When I was Director and VP of Recruiting for companies like HP, Fidelity and IDG, I used the facilitation methods to solicit the real position requirements from hiring managers, even at the senior management levels. The Morgan Facilitation method of questioning and listening also proved valuable when convincing candidates to accept jobs we had offered.
While you may have first developed your methodology for sales, it has proven quite valuable whenever I needed to question and listen for what was really going on with an individual or an organization.
Bravo and thank you so very much for your wisdom and passion with which you share it.
Barbara Heyn, Atticus Consulting, LLC
My sales cycle time used to average 9 months. Using your method, I got a new client within a WEEK of my first meeting with him.
Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Selling with Integrity describes the first new paradigm in sales. It offers a model for how to bring soul into sales, and teaches the hands-on skills to do it.
Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager
Finally, a sales paradigm which supports our spiritual values and lays the foundation for the paradigm shifts occurring in business today.
Larry Wilson, author of Changing the Game
Morgen has done it again – described an exceptional approach to selling and made it clear and concise. Read this book [Selling with Integrity] and practice what’s between the covers. It will make your next sales call the most successful in your career.
Philip Kotler, author of Marketing Management
Morgen’s Buying Facilitation® is light years ahead of the rest of the field.
Jim Vaughan, VP Marketing, Operations (High Net Worth), William Blair Select Investment Partners
William Blair and Company is a 75 year old investment banking and management company in Chicago. My team supports a group of investment professionals who primarily concentrate on managing growth equity portfolios for high net worth individuals and small institutions. Our task is to enable them to become true “advisors” as opposed to strictly portfolio managers. This is done by researching and hiring managers, funds, and investment opportunities from other companies whose expertise will complement and enhance our advisors ability to provide their investor clients with truly diversified investment solutions based upon the clients unique circumstances and appetites.
While this approach makes sense in many ways – especially to the client – it has been difficult to integrate new learning around actually helping buyers make decisions into the culture of the firm. Our advisors are deeply rooted in very traditional sales methods of open – present – close (and hope for the best). They have also become very ingrained in playing the role of “expert” without recognizing that buyers don’t buy until they are ready no matter how “expert” the advisors are. While the old way certainly works some of the time, fierce competition for these clients demands a different approach.
Buying Facilitation® has helped us in two important ways. First, key members of my team have been trained by Sharon-Drew. With that background we have been able to walk advisors thru a decision making process to determine what the clients would need on the product side, Buying Facilitation® teaches them how to work with the buyer to design unique, appropriate solutions that they would be willing to buy from us. As a result, our advisors have been able to expand their practice and build meaningful leverage and growth. Our entire manager-of-managers platform has been developed based on what the advisors have gleaned from this collaborative decision making approach (Buying Facilitation®) and as a result we know how to help them to compete effectively for HNW clients in today’s marketplace.
Secondly, and this is where the long-term benefits are really beginning to pay off, our using Buying Facilitation® instead of conventional sales helps the advisors see that their deeply rooted “open-present-close-hope” sales methodology is not consistent with being a trusted advisor as much as it is with being a “broker” (a term they despise). Some of the braver members ofthe group are actually involving a member of my team (trained by Sharon-Drew and using the collaborative decision making of Buying Facilitation®) to help buyers recognize their own criteria and figure out how to make their best decision using us as their supplier – all of this, early on in the sales cycle with their clients and it is providing them with success much earlier, and with more prospects, than they would normally have achieved using conventional sales methods. And it has been a very positive reaction. We are just now beginning to see the guard come down and the realization set in that this stuff works! It has been difficult given the cultural shift that has been required but things are indeed moving forward at a more rapid pace than ever.
We are still at the “aha” stage for the many. But as they see the power of helping clients make their own decisions rather than having to be the one with all the answers they are becoming more open to our advice and coaching. There is tough work yet to be done, but the skills we have developed thru Sharon-Drew’s program have helped us become true agents of change, which is rewarding.