Resistance to change: inexplicable, irrational, and real

Recently, a student of my Guided Study program thought that her clients – franchisees who sell her product – might do well to add Buying Facilitation™ to their sales skills so they could close  more sales.

I sent a couple of blog posts for the folks to read, and then had a phone conference with them. My job was to help them understand more about the model, and to use Facilitative Questions on them to not help them decide if adding new skills would help them sell better, but actually give them the ‘feel’ of how helping manage the buying decision worked.

What happened during our meeting is something that occasionally happens when sales folks first consider working first with the buying decision: they defend their status quo.

With a close rate of well under 10%, these folks defended their current skills: by any rational standard they rejected the possibility of being more successful, preferring to maintain their status quo. Are they being irrational? We generally think our prospects irrational when our solution can solve their problem and they don’t choose us, don’t we?

But I do not believe in the words ‘irrational’ or ‘rational.’ Like all decision makers (yes, even our buyers) these folks have made the best decision for themselves at this moment: they are being totally rational – within their unique system.  These folks are more comfortable with their status quo, regardless of their success rate, than they are with the prospect of change, even at the expense of more money and more clients.


For those of you interested in deeply exploring change and how new decisions get made, my new book Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it minutely depicts how people make the internal decisions necessary for changing congruently – and making a buying decision is more of a change management problem than a problem resolution issue: until or unless the status quo gets buy-in from the appropriate people and policies, the risk of change is greater than the risk of doing what they’ve been doing (the results of which are already built in to the system).

Suffice it to say, that change isn’t just a matter of having a new thought, or adding a solution. The reality is that if we really, really thought there was something THAT wrong we would have changed already. The fact that we (and our buyers) are in the environment that we’re in, is a testament to the decisions that have already been made: the status quo is a sum total of all of our decisions to date.

When it’s time for us to change, we must make sure that we somehow integrate the new with the decisions and behaviors we’ve already created and maintain daily. Until or unless we are able to figure out how to reconfigure our rules and roles and relationship and ego issues, we will take no action at all – even if it means sticking with something that’s less than successful. That’s right: even with a 7% closing ratio, many many sales professionals would prefer to continue doing what they are doing rather than change and mess up what they have grown accustomed to and have rationalized and internalized.


But the truth is, the sales model is stupid, not our buyers. It only manages the needs assessment and solution placement end of the buying decision, and leaves the buyer to manage the hard part alone. So I can sit and listen to how inefficient a prospect’s sales model is, and I can have the absolute perfect solution (and I DO, I DO), and they won’t/can’t buy. Because until or unless there is buy-in throughout the relevant parts of the system, the buyer CANNOT take action.

Sales does not handle this dilemma. But it’s possible to work first with the decision making/change issues that buyers must manage before they can even begin considering a solution.

Before you decide on learning Buying Facilitation™, or adding it to your current skill set, answer the following Facilitative Questions:

  • What would you need to know or believe differently about what you are doing to be able to know when it would be time to add a new skill set?
  • What is it about your current skills that you’d like to maintain so you can ensure that anything new wouldn’t destroy what you already do successfully?
  • How would you know that Buying Facilitation™ could fit with your current skills in a way that would maintain your personal integrity and beliefs about who you are as a sales professional?

Because until or unless you can be assured that you can make a change that is integrous with who you are, you will do nothing.

Are you willing to help your clients work from inner choices rather than need/solution, so they won’t resist?


Microsoft is putting on a virtual event that you might want to be a part of. They are going to be discussing how to improve your sales organizations, through briefs, presentations, and forum discussions. Also, as an added bonus, another one of the Focus Experts (I’m one as well), Dave Brock, will be giving his thoughts on high performance sales training.

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