Sales has been around since the Serpent convinced Eve to eat the apple. And, unfortunately, the goals have remained pretty much the same ever since.
The sales model was designed for a different time in history, when there were fewer decision makers and products could be easily described in a magazine ad. With the advent of the web, global business practices, and the ability to communicate ideas across distances, there has been a sea change in not only what we can create and deliver, but also in the process buyers must go through prior to being able to make a purchase. The sales model itself hasn’t kept up in important ways.
Let’s take a hard look at what sales is, and how it must shift to keep up with our global economy.
WHAT IS SALES NOW?
1. The sales model merely manages the needs assessment and solution placement end of the buyer’s decision path.
PROBLEM: The majority of the buying decision path occurs off line (buyers must know how to manage the change, get the right people to buy in, address the implementation issues, etc.) so we are merely catching the low hanging fruit – there when they are ready to buy.
IMPLICATIONS: We aren’t entering the buyer’s decision journey early enough to become part of the Buying Decision Team (i.e. helping navigate through decision issues and collapsing the sales cycle); we sit and wait while they do their internal change management, with no direct skills to enter that area of the buyer’s decision journey.
SOLUTION: Start your conversation by helping facilitate change right from the beginning and save the needs assessment/solution discussion until the prospect sees a path through to change (all can be done on the first call); take the role of a buying facilitator and decision facilitator; help the prospect become a buyer (or not) immediately.
2. Sales treats a ‘need’ or ‘problem” as if it were an isolated event rather than recognizing that a ‘need’ sits within a system: a set of rules and relationships that maintain the status quo (including their ‘pain’) daily. Until this entire system agrees to, and is made ready for, something new, no solution can be purchased.
PROBLEM: We end up focusing on one small aspect within a sea of issues, and then pushing/waiting/pushing/
IMPLICATIONS: We end up presenting possibly the wrong data, too early, to the wrong people, and waste our time following around folks who don’t buy.
SOLUTION: Buying is a change management problem. We can facilitate this with an additional skill set to help them facilitate change – right from the first call.
3. Sales focuses on understanding needs and placing solutions, but until or unless all of the people who need to be on the Buying Decision Team are on board, and until all of the change management issues are managed, buyers can’t make a purchase.
PROBLEM: We are entering too early, offering data they don’t know what to do with yet.
IMPLICATIONS: The time it takes buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle. We end up following prospects who cannot close (and don’t know that until they don’t close) and don’t have a different skill set to open up prospects who didn’t know they need to buy, but are buyers. Plus we can shorten our sales cycles by at least half.
SOLUTION: With Buying Facilitation® (a change management model that works alongside of sales) we can lead buyers through the decision steps, help them discern who must be on the Buying Decision Team, and become a member: we become neutral navigators rather than solution-placers.
4. We have assumed that if we can find a need, and our solution fits, that we have a sale. But if it were true, we’d be closing more, and sooner.
PROBLEM: Sales methods such as ‘objection handling’ ‘closing’ ‘getting past gatekeepers’, manage the fallout when buyers don’t buy according to the seller’s time frame. The problem is not a solution choice problem, but a buying decision/change management issue, and needs a different (i.e. non-sales) skill to manage that end of the path.
IMPLICATIONS: Because we don’t know who is a buyer until, well, until they buy, we waste over 90% of our time (and our company’s time) chasing prospects who don’t buy. And we can’t tell the difference until it’s too late.
SOLUTION: Using Buying Facilitation® you enter at the beginning of the path, and help buyers develop a pathway to handle the people, policies, relationship, and change issues necessary before they can buy. Once everyone is on board, and there is a path to a successful implementation, and everyone who will touch the solution is on board, THEN use sales – with no objections or delays.
Sales is vital. It manages the solution choice end of the buying path. It uncovers and supports needs. But it has no direct tools to do change management. We need to do more than sell. I believe the time has come to add a new skill to sales, and use Buying Facilitation® as part of your sales skills to truly help buyers buy. It is possible to eliminate objections, price issues, and closing issues, while greatly speeding up the sales cycle. Would you rather sell? or have someone buy?
Read samples of “Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions”(PDF) and “Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.” (PDF)
Listen to Sharon-Drew discuss Buying Facilitation®.