Helping Buyers Buy – Buying Facilitation®

Do you know why folks don’t buy? It’s because they’re not ready. We can enter earlier and find and guide those who WILL become buyers to Buyer Readiness.

There’s always been a gap between what and how sellers sell and what and how people buy. But the sales model, seeking those with ‘need’ to place solutions, only finds folks who are ready, willing, and able to buy – the low hanging fruit – ignoring the full set of potential buyers (approximately 40% who are real prospects) on route but bogged down with the issues they must first resolve. It’s the reason only 5% of prospects close.

This became obvious to when I went from being a sales professional to an entrepreneur – from being a seller to a buyer – and I created a model that enables the buying decision process. Let me explain.

When I started up a tech company in London UK in 1983 I realized I couldn’t buy anything I needed until I

  • understood the full nature of the problem from the point of view of all who touched it, created it, maintained it or I wouldn’t know what I needed to fix;
  • tried to fix the problem with what was available and familiar;
  • understood the ‘cost’ of adding something new (i.e. change) so I could determine if the problem was worth fixing, mainly assessed by those touching the final solution, and any systems changes that would have to be made for the new to fit;
  • get buy in for the change from the stakeholders.

There were so many issues that a buyer had to resolve that I hadn’t considered when on the sales side.


The most important I realized as a buyer was that the buying decision process was quite different from, and not addressed by, any selling tools available to me as a seller. I realized that buying anything wasn’t based on a ‘need’ that I had but on maintaining my environment of people, policies, norms, values, and culture – the system – we worked in. Wait, what? Buying is not about need?

Nope. I quickly realized that ‘buying’ anything was my last option: As a potential buyer I had to factor in the ‘cost’ of bringing in something new, i.e. change, and if I could fix my problem myself it would eliminate risk. After all, I was doing well-enough, and if the disruption from something new was so great I would be left worse off, the status quo would be fine. Indeed, I would only consider a purchase if it was my only option, regardless of my need or the efficacy of a solution.

This concept was outside my viewpoint as a seller whose goal was to find folks to buy. Sadly for me and the sales industry, this thinking was the essence of why buyers didn’t buy when I thought they should, that the time it took to recognize all the factors and downsides involved was actually the length of the sales cycle.

With a goal of selling my solution, I hadn’t realized that I could never understand or manage the buyer’s unique change processes; I had never separated out the selling from the buying before. Indeed, they are two different activities.

Here’s a simple story that will show you the differences. I was training at IBM when my client asked me to contact a small user company in nearby Rye NY. They knew the company had a too-small server and would be a great Beta test site for their new/improved one, but after several trials and a promise of a free and greatly upgraded server, the company refused to accept. Could I help? I contacted this company and here was our conversation:

SD: Hi. My name is Sharon-Drew Morgen and I’m a trainee at IBM. I understand some of our folks offered you a new server if you’d be a Beta test for it. I’m wondering how your current server is working.

C: Well, it’s ok for now.

SD: Ah. Seems you’re not ready to consider any upgrade at the moment, even if it’s free. There certainly must be some mitigating factors.

C: Right. We’re a Mom & Pop shop. My Dad is the Pop. He’s 75 and in charge of all our technology. He’s been using the old server for many years and is comfortable with it, so even though our current server is so slow, we’re going to keep it until Dad retires in the next year or so.

SD: That makes perfect sense. I wonder, though, if Dad would be willing to go to another Beta site a couple of miles from you to see if the new server would be difficult for him to learn and operate. That way, in case it’s not a big problem for him, you’d end up with a new, fast server and we could use you as a Beta site.

C: Oh. I bet he would love to try it out. I hadn’t thought of that. The other folks from IBM kept pitching me the features of the new server, and we never discussed my buying criteria.

In this story it’s quite clear that folks who actually needed my solution weren’t able to ‘buy’. Once I realized this, I developed a Buying Facilitation® model to teach sellers how to help people through their steps to change. But let me first spend a moment breaking down the differences between selling and buying.


To begin with, there is nothing wrong with the products/solutions people sell. The problem is in the buying. Buying is a change management problem before it’s a solution choice issue and the sales model overlooks the change management portion entirely.  

Because all environments are comprised of systems of people and rules and activities and history, any problem that arises is part of the system and is maintained by daily activities. As such prospective buyers would prefer to resolve a problem with some sort of familiar workaround to keep the solution within the system. It’s only once they recognize they cannot resolve the problem themselves AND there is buy-in to bring in something new AND the cost to the system is understood and agreeable can there be a purchase.

The sales model ignores this and focuses only on a small portion of the buying decision journey by seeking out ‘need’ to place solutions. Yet any attempt to place a solution, or capture the attention of would-be buyers, or make appointments to introduce solutions, will be ignored as folks first try to fix their own problem and do their change work. Using my facilitation model, my clients enter the beginning of their buyer’s change management journey, and close 40% of the same list the control group closes 5.4%.

The question sellers forget to ask is Do we want to sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities.

No one starts off wanting to buy, merely fix a problem at the least ‘cost’. The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is the disruption any change will cost. Indeed, the time it takes people to manage change and get the necessary buy in is the length of the sales cycle. After all, if the ‘cost’ of a purchase, or a fix, is higher than the cost of leaving things as they are, they’ll leave a problem unresolved.

By seeking to connect around needs and solutions, sellers only sell to those folks who have already determined they need to buy (i.e. at the end of their decision journey) and don’t take the opportunity to connect during the majority of their decision making. Obviously, this creates a fight for the small percent that show up, and overlooks the capability of entering earlier and closing far more by facilitating Buyer Readiness first.

All people must go down this change management path anyway – with us or without us – so it might as well be with us. Otherwise we’re all left fighting for the low hanging fruit and closing 5%. And of course by expanding the selling process to actually facilitating buying, sellers will find more real prospects, sell more, close faster, truly differentiate themselves, and become servant leaders.

It’s possible to find people who WILL become buyers (on the first call, with a different focus) and facilitate them down the path they must go down.


People don’t start off as buyers, but as folks seeking to resolve a problem with the least ‘cost’ to the system when the resulting change is planned for and minimal. They only become buyers once they know how to manage the change and the stakeholders have bought in.

In other words, the process of buying is a change management process well before a solution choice/sales issue. Starting with a change management hat on first, and by understanding the steps of systemic change, it’s possible to find those with a high likelihood of becoming buyers and lead them down their steps of change (which sales ignores). It’s just logical that the time it takes people to accomplish these steps is the length of the buy/sales cycle.

People begin their journey toward purchasing by trying workarounds to resolve a problem on their own. The time it takes them to figure out

  • how, what, or if to change,
  • get the buy-in for agreement,
  • understand that the ‘cost’ of the change is equal to or less than the ‘cost’ of the status quo,

is the length of the sales cycle. By facilitating the change management issues it’s possible to identify the people who are probable buyers on the first call and facilitate folks through their change issues and THEN sell and close 40% instead of 5%.

Indeed, 80% of people contacted by sellers will eventually buy – on average 2 years later, after they’ve managed their change congruently. In other words, they must do this with us or without us, and we wait (and wait and hope and wait) while they do it; we might as well learn a new set of skills and help them.

Understanding this I created a model to first facilitate the change management process and, enable folks to determine they were buyers, and THEN sell.


To first facilitate the change, and as a front-end to the sales model, I developed Buying Facilitation® for sellers (used for coaches and leaders as well) to lead Others through their steps toward change.

Using my knowledge of the steps I took as I figured out how to bring in the needed change in my company, I created a 13-step decision facilitation model that lays out each step of the change, addressing the behind-the-scenes (i.e. private, unique, idiosyncratic, unconscious) issues I needed to address or face incongruence, resistance, and backlash from stakeholders.


Buying Facilitation® is a model that leads folks through their stages of decision making and change and facilitates their journey to become prospects when sales takes over. It is change facilitation driven, not solution-placement (i.e. sales) driven. After all, you’ve got nothing to sell if they have nothing to buy.

Buying Facilitation® recognizes that until

  • the full fact pattern causing the underlying problem is understood,
  • any disruption from bringing in a new solution can be managed easily,
  • it cannot resolve the problem internally,
  • the cost of the new is equal to or less than the cost of the status quo,
  • there is buy-in from those who will use/touch the final solution,

there will be no purchase or change.


Buying Facilitation® begins by contacting folks who might have interest in changing something in the field our product is in. We begin by listening with an unbiased ear for the system that holds the potential problem in place and that would require changing the status quo, rather than listening for ‘need’.

By beginning with a ‘change facilitation’ hat on, sellers can find folks already engaged in the change process as they have a higher likelihood of becoming buyers than folks who seem to have a ‘need’, as having a ‘need’ does not mean they’re ready to fix it. in fact, surprisingly, a buying decision has little to do with a need until folks recognize they cannot resolve a problem on their own and there’s buy in for change that carries a minimal ‘cost’ to the system. 

This is a very vital point. Just because there may be a need doesn’t automatically mean people are ready, willing, and able to buy. Have you ever had to lose 10 pounds? Why didn’t you? You may have a need, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to take action.

When sellers sort for people with a ‘need’ they overlook those who

  1. Haven’t yet recognized a need they can’t fix themselves, but may become buyers when they do;
  2. Haven’t gotten to the point where they are considering an external solution (i.e. buy something) but as soon as they realize they can’t fix the problem themselves are likely to;
  3. Haven’t gotten the buy-in to do anything different, but when they do they’ll buy,
  4. Don’t yet understand the ‘cost’ of bringing in something different but once they know it’s manageable they’ll buy.

By sorting for folks who actively seek change, there’s not only a much larger group to talk to, but a group who are far more willing to be buyers. Remember:

People don’t want to buy anything, merely resolve a problem with the least ‘cost’ to their system.

I’ve discovered there are 13 steps to all change and decision making. In sales traversing all steps are particularly relevant as a new purchase represents some form of disruption within the status quo. To wit:

  • without the inclusion of all who have/will touch the final solution, it’s impossible to understand the full fact pattern necessary to know before choosing a purchase;
  • without buy-in from the stakeholders, the new solution may be rejected or there won’t be agreement for the purchase;
  • without an understanding of how the new will effect the status quo, it’s possible that the new will cause indeterminate disruption and the system will reject it.

Putting this all together, Buying Facilitation® has a very specific trajectory:


  • The most important skill in Buying Facilitation® is listening for change issues rather than listening for need. I developed a model to have choice around what we listen for and overlook our natural biases. I call this Listening for Systems
  • The other necessary skill is to lead folks down their own unique change trajectory. I developed a new form of question – a Facilitative Question – that lead Others down the steps they need to manage as they seek to fix their problem. It took me 10 years to develop these questions. they are brain generators – not for information gathering – to lead folks to extract the right content in the right sequence to have the full fact pattern to make decisions from. They are not conventional questions and do not request information as per the curiosity of the Asker. They actively trigger new thinking and decision making and inspire recognition of some of their more habitual and automatic activity that’s not always obvious but certainly part of the problem.
  • Using Facilitative Questions, sellers lead prospective buyers through their 13 steps to uncover each element needed for them to be willing to change. It also takes away any biases an Asker might have and concentrates on first facilitating change.

Until all this occurs, people aren’t buyers anyway – and indeed don’t become buyers until step 10 when they’ve gotten the necessary buy-in AND know how to manage the change and disruption that bringing in a new solution will cause. Remember: a buying decision is a change management process before it’s a solution choice process.

With Buying Facilitation® it’s possible to find folks who are considering change and helps them determine if the cost of the change will be equal to or less than the cost of remaining the same, all of which are necessary before people are buyers. If the cost is higher, folks will maintain the status quo. Remember: all people are doing this before they buy anything anyway. They either do it with us or without us. Currently they do it without us and the length of time it takes is the length of the sales cycle.

Question: do you want to sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities. Sales only handles on of them. Buying Facilitation® handles the other. Both processes are necessary.

I teach sellers using a very unique training process that enables learning, using the same format they’ll use to enable buying. This can be taught either by me, or with the Guided Study self-learning program developed by me for individual learners.


Different from sales, Buying Facilitation®:

  • finds likely buyers – those who WILL buy – on the first call;
  • closes in half the time;
  • begins gathering the full set of stakeholders on the first call;
  • closes 40% in pilot studies vs 5.4% in control group;
  • is a spiritual practice (facilitates Others through to their own choices and decisions);
  • has the full set of stakeholders at appointment;
  • minimizes needs for pitch, presentation, proposals;
  • requires less sales folks because they close more, close faster.

Note: I’ve trained this model to 100,000 folks globally to such companies as: KPMG (trained 6,000 partners), DuPont (trained 8,000), Wachovia, IBM, GE, P&G, Bose, Boston Scientific, Morgan Stanley, Kaiser Permanente, Quest, Microchip, ERT, California Closets (trained 5,000), Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Sandler Sales.

For a more complete understanding, I’ve included several articles below. For those who want to learn the model or have their team trained, go to the applications section where I offer learning products. Or you can contact me to discuss:

Ask yourself this: do you want to sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities. Sales only handles on of them. Buying Facilitation® handles the other. Both processes are necessary.

I teach sellers using a very unique training process that enables learning, using the same format they’ll use to enable buying. This can be taught either by me, or with the Guided Study self-learning program developed by me for individual learners.

Should you have questions and want to either further discuss the process or discuss training/learning needs, please contact me:

For learning products that teach Buying Facilitation® go here.

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