Buying Facilitation® Comes Before Sales

stabilityI’ve recently gotten a few notes from folks thinking that Buying Facilitation™ is a way to help buyers make a buying choice once they are prospects. I’d like to correct you: Buying Facilitation™ is NOT a selling tool; it is used BEFORE any selling happens, and is a change management tool.

Let’s look at it this way: if a buyer’s buying decision were a 3 inch line, the sales piece would be the last 1/2 inch. Let me  give you an example with the client I blogged about yesterday. sales

Good Practice sells a wonderful JIT on-line learning tool. If they approach a university as a prospect, there are several problems that the university would have to handle prior to considering bringing in an additional learning solution or a new provider:

  1. the university has a learning and development department offers employees blended learning material for the employees: there is competition for eyeballs and budget; there are ego issues re developing new material.
  2. the university has an HR department that oversees what material is given to employees, how budget is spent, who is on the decision team to invite in new providers or seek new solutions; they define the terms to ensure suppliers meet the rigor of their academic standards and the needs of the staff.
  3. even more than budget, universities have, um, interesting time lines that drag on forever while different groups form and reform, initiatives are completed one at a time, and people shift their jobs.
  4. these folks have really good tech departments that just love designing new programs.

In other words, their internal system is relatively incomprehensible (even to themselves) and sometimes in competition. Until or unless they are able to manage all of the above internal factors, it makes no sense to pitch a product or discuss need. And an outsider is not privy to, or part of, these discussions. But they can be with Buying Facilitation™.


Buying Facilitation™ helps them sequentially pull together all of the above issues so they can look at their possibilities, weigh what they have now against some future excellence, figure out how to bring together all of their decision points, and see what they need from outside vs. what they can do themselves. But it’s based on the buyer’s definition of excellence – not ours. And sometimes, they want to do it all themselves but may discover they cannot.

Re this last point, one of our Facilitative Questions to these university groups is:

What is stopping you and your tech folks from designing the sort of JIT online learning tools that will give your managers the type of skills they need to achieve the excellence they seek?

This is asked about 1/3 the way down the sequential Funnel: if the tech team thinks it has the time and bandwidth to design new tools, they will not bring in anyone from outside to do it.

Instead of directing a conversation around ‘need’ or ‘solution’ – which is absolutely necessary AFTER they’ve made their internal decisions and gotten buy-in from HR and L&D and the tech team – Buying Facilitation™ teaches them FIRST how to: get internal buy-in for adding a new solution, bring together a Buying Decision Team, figure out what excellence looks like, and resolve internal issues on their own…but with us on their Team.

They have to do this anyway, and the time it takes them to do it is the length of the sales cycle. Plus, I’d rather be on their team as they decide. If they can do it all on their own, they wouldn’t have bought me anyway and I can save myself months of follow-on conversations and have served them.

We have always sat and waited for buyers to do this behind-the-scenes stuff. And sales doesn’t manage it. With Buying Facilitation™, we can do this WITH them – and THEN we can sell.

My new book Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it is about the systems involved in a buying decision, and the change management involved. Hang in there: it will be out October 1. In the meantime you may want to look at 2 free chapters from the ebook Buying Facilitation™ that partners the new book.

It’s been an interesting 20 years, talking about decision facilitation in the field of sales, with sales focusing on solution placement. What would you need to believe differently to be willing to add a new skill set to the one you’re already using?


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