Musical sales people: moving sellers to be near buyers is irrelevant

When I recently heard that a prospect was re-organizing and moving the sales folks into geographic verticals, I was baffled. Across the board, through decades, using any sales model, selling any solution, the sales model closes 7%, plus or minus 2%. Regardless of where the sellers sat.

From what I gather, the thinking behind this is to ‘be nearer the buyers.’

And what, exactly, does this give you? Have you checked your numbers to notice there isn’t a difference in your close rates?

You can organize by verticals to ‘understand the buyer’ better. You can organize by territory to be nearer your buyers. You can call for an appointment first, or do telemarketing. You can do lead scoring or group sales.

You will close no more than 7%, plus or minus 2%, from first call.


I’ll briefly lay out my thinking here: buyers – like everyone in a system – fight to maintain the status quo. It’s a scientific law called homeostasis. Until or unless there is internal agreement as to how the system will remain stable if there is a new solution brought in, buyers won’t buy.

By reorganizing around geographic areas to be closer to prospects, you’re assuming that

  1. ‘relationship’ will close the deal,
  2. buyers will buy if they like the seller
  3. you need to get in front of prospects for them to choose you
  4. the solution choice and needs assessment are the primary points within a buying decision (and can be best done face-to-face often).

#1. Relationship is important only when the buying team has already determined how to manage change and is assured of buy-in and a minimum disruption if there is to be a purchase. Then, and only then, will they prefer one seller over another so long as all else is equal.

#2. Ditto.

#3. Ditto.

#4. Buyers seek only to resolve a business problem. They are not seeking to buy anything – and won’t buy a thing without requisite buy-in across teams, departments, relationship history, and vendor loyalties. It’s not about the need: they will forgo fixing a problem if too many disruptions will occur as a result.


If you count your closed sales from the first contact – not from the first appointment – you’ll find that you close the same amount, regardless of where your sellers are located.

Stop selling. Regardless of where your sellers sit. Selling does not cause buying. Buying is an internal thing that demands decisions amongst peers, and change management, and old vendors, and historic in-fighting. Sales doesn’t handle this – but Buying Facilitation® does.

Help your buyers manage their internal decision path that is change related, not solution focused. You only need a phone, a focus on decision facilitation, the ability to help buyers navigate through their internal changes, and a good solution.

If you want to learn how to do it, call me and I’ll teach you Buying Facilitation®. Or you can continue moving your folks around and getting the same results.


There are many ways to learn Buying Facilitation®:

Sharon-Drew is a featured speaker at the Search Insider Summit – May 4 – 7 , 2011

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