Integrity in the sales field: don’t steal my term

As my Buying Facilitation™ material becomes more widely accepted, my terminology – once derided, ignored, and scoffed at – is now becoming commonplace. Words and terms that I coined and wrote about decades ago – decision facilitation, Buying Facilitation™, the buyer’s journey, the buying decision process, how buyer’s buy – are now part of the sales parlance. I even noticed that HP and Wellpoint are seeking to hire sales people with Buying Facilitation™ skills! How cool is that!?

Unfortunately, as the words become more widely used, folks are redefining them and attempting to shove them into a sales definition. If that happens, the meaning of my models and theories face extinction.

Conceived as a change management model, the legal definition of this term is a decision navigation model to help buyers uncover their internal, private, behind-the-scenes decision making and relationship building issues they must address together before considering a new purchase (or change, for that matter). Unfortunely, my original (and trademarked) ideas are being co-opted into a way to help buyers choose a solution or vendor, not do change management. This was never, ever my intent. It’s not what my 7 books are about, or my hundreds of blog posts, or my corporate training programs.

Come on, guys. There is already a term that works with needs and solutions. It’s called Sales. And once you take Buying Facilitation™ and redefine it to mean part of a sales process (even the buying end of choosing a solution), not only are we losing a new capability to support buyers (earlier in their buying decision journey than sales), but the buyers are losing a true Trusted Advisor capability that Buying Facilitation™ offers sellers. In other words, change the meaning, lose the capability.

And, I will not allow this to happen. Ever. Trust me.


Recently, a couple of sales trainers have misused Buying Facilitation™. I nicely wrote to them, explaining the problem, offering the legal definition, and telling them they could use the term if defined properly, or if they linked the term back to the proper definition, or if they changed it to buyer facilitation – a sales support term.

One wrote back immediately and apologized, changing the blog post to read ‘buyer facilitation.’  The other wrote back and told me he could do whatever he wanted and wouldn’t change it. My lawyer gave him options. I gave him more options. We’re now moving forward legally. And I have a very tough IP lawyer who loves these sorts of fights. Amazing to me that this man finds it more compelling to go to court than to change buying to buyer and be legal. And it makes me really, really cranky. Rather than pay my lawyer I’d much rather send the money to people in Haiti or homeless shelters or families suffering from domestic violence.

But make no mistake: after 20+ years writing about, speaking about, training, and coaching Buying Facilitation™, it’s my brand and my life. I am committed to making a decision facilitation model available for buyers and sellers.

With so few sales trainers in the world, I must prefer we have the necessary integrity to serve each other, respect each other’s work, and possibly rid the world of lawyers. But if we can’t, let the legal battles begin. I’m ready for the fight. And I’m not willing to lose my terminology and deprive the world/field of a new set of skills that will truly, truly serve buyers.


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