Sales as a Spiritual Practice, by Sharon-Drew Morgen

With untold millions of sales professionals in the world, sellers play a role in any economy. As the intermediary between clients and providers, sales can be a spiritual practice, with sellers becoming true facilitators and Servant Leaders (and close more sales).

The current sales model, directed at placing solutions and seeking folks with ‘need’,  closes 5% – only those ready to buy at point of contact. Sadly, this ignores the possibility of facilitating and serving the 80% of folks on route to becoming buyers and not yet ready.

Until people have tried, and failed, to fix their problem themselves, understood and managed the risk and disruption that a new solution might cause their environment,  they aren’t buyers. It’s only when they:

  • know how to manage the risk of bringing in something new,
  • can’t fix the problem themselves,
  • get buy-in from whomever will touch the final solution,
  • understand that the cost of bringing in something new is lower than the cost of maintaining the status quo,

will they self-identify as buyers and be ready to buy.

Indeed: buying is a risk/change management problem before it’s a solution choice issue, regardless of the need or the efficacy of the solution. All potential buyers must go through this process anyway – and the sales model doesn’t help.


People don’t want to buy anything; they merely seek to resolve a problem at the least ‘cost’ (risk) to their system. Even if folks eventually need a seller’s solution, until they understand how to manage the change a new solution would generate, they won’t heed our outreach, regardless of their need or the efficacy of the solution. As a result, sellers with worthwhile solutions end up wasting a helluva lot of time being ignored and rejected.

Selling doesn’t cause buyingSales focuses on only the final steps of a buying decision and overlooks the high percentage of would-be prospects who WILL become buyers once they’ve addressed their possible risk issues. After all, until they’ve recognized that the risk of the new is less than the risk of staying the same they won’t do anything different.

It’s not the solution being sold that’s the problem, it’s the process of pushing solutions before first helping those who will become buyers facilitate their necessary change process. Instead of a transactional process, sales can be an expansive, collaborative experience between seller and buyer.


As a result, sellers end up seeking and closing only those ready to buy at the point of contact – unwittingly ignoring others who aren’t ready yet, may need our solutions, and just need to get their ducks in a row before they’re prepared to make a decision.

Imagine having a product-needs discussion about moving an iceberg and discussing only the tip. That’s sales; it doesn’t facilitate the entire range of hidden, unique change issues buyers must consider – having nothing to do with solutions – before they could buy anything. Failure is built in.

But when sellers redirect their focus from seeking folks with ‘need’ to those considering change and lead them through their change management process before selling, they can facilitate them through the issues they must resolve (politics, relationships, resource, budget, time), help them assemble the right stakeholders from the start, and help them figure out how to address the disruption of bringing in a new solution. Then sellers become true servant leaders, inspire trust, and close more sales.


Seller’s restricted focus on placing solutions, and listening for needs (which cannot be fully known until the change management process is complete) all but insures a one-sided communication based on the needs of the seller:

  1. Prospecting/cold calling – sellers pose biased questions as an excuse to offer solution details omitting those who will buy – real buyers! – once they’re ready. Wholly seller-centric.
  2. Content marketing – driven by the seller to push the ‘right’ data but really only a push into the unknown and a hope for action. Wholly seller-centric.
  3. Deals, cold-call pushes, negotiation, objection-handling, closing techniques, getting to ‘the’ decision maker, price-reductions – all assuming buyers would buy if they understood their need/the solution/their problem, all overlooking the real connection and service capability of addressing the person’s most pressing change issues. Wholly seller-centric.

To become a spiritual practice, sellers must use their expertise to become true facilitators that become necessary components in all buying decisions. Indeed, the job of ‘sales’ as merely a solution-placement vehicle is short-sighted.

  • Buyers can find products online. They don’t need sellers to understand the features and benefits.
  • Choosing a solution isn’t the problem. It’s the time it takes to manage the risk. – it’s the buyer’s behind-the-scenes timing, buy-in from those who will touch the solution, and change management process that gums up the works.
  • The lion’s share of the buying decision (9 out of a 13 step decision path) involves buyers traversing internal change with no thoughts of buying. They don’t even self-identify as buyers until they understand their risk of change.

Since the 1980s, I’ve been an author, seller, trainer, consultant, and sales coach of the Buying Facilitation® model. And though I’ve trained 100,000 sales professionals, and wrote the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, sales continues to be solution-placement driven. By ignoring a large population of potential buyers who merely aren’t ready, sales unwittingly ignores the real problem: it’s in the buying, not the selling.


It’s possible to truly serve clients AND close more sales.

Aspiring to a win-win

Win-win means both sides get what they need. Sellers believe that placing product that resolves a problem offers an automatic win-win. But that’s not wholly accurate. Buying isn’t as simple as choosing a solution. The very last thing people want is to buy anything, regardless of their apparent need.

As outsiders sellers can’t know the tangles of people and policies that hold a problem/need in place. The time it takes them to design a congruent solution that includes buy-in and change management is the length of their sales cycle. Buyers need to do this anyway; it’s the length of the sales cycle.

If sellers begin by finding those on route to buying and help them efficiently traverse their internal struggles, sellers can help them get to the ‘need/purchase’ decision more quickly and be part of the solution – win-win. No more chasing those who will never close; no more turning off those who will eventually seek our solution; no more gathering incomplete data from one person with partial answers.

Sellers can find and enable those who can/should buy to buy in half the time and sell more product – and very quickly know the difference between them and those who can never buy.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

There are several pieces to the puzzle here.

  • The buyer and the environment the prospect lives in, including people, policies, job titles, egos, relationships, politics, layers of management, rules, etc. that no one on the outside will ever understand. It’s never as simple as just changing out the problem for a new product; they will buy only when they’re certain they can’t fix their own problem.
  • Resolving the problem needs full internal buy-in before being willing to change (i.e. buy) regardless of the efficacy of the fix. A purchase is not necessarily their best solution even if it looks like a fit to a seller.
  • The ability of the buyer to manage the disruption that a new purchase would incur on the system, people, and policies. A fix, or purchase, might be worse than the problem.
  • The seller and the seller’s product may/may not fit in the buyer’s environment due to idiosyncratic, political, or rules-based issues, regardless of the need.
  • The purchase and implementation and follow up that includes buy-in from all who will experience a potentially disruptive change if a new solution enters and shifts their job routines.

There is no right answer

Sellers often believe that buyers are idiots for not making speedy decisions, or for not buying an ‘obvious’ solution. But sales offers no skills to enter earlier with a different skill set to facilitate change or manage risk.

Once buyers figure out their congruent route to change, they won’t have objections, will close themselves, and there’s no competition: sellers facilitate change management first and then sell once everything is in place. No call backs and follow up and ignored calls. And trust is immediate: a seller becomes a necessary partner to the buying decision process.

No one has anyone else’s answer

By adding Buying Facilitation®, collaborative decisions get made that will serve everyone.

Let’s change the focus: instead relegating sales to merely a product/solution placement endeavor, let’s add the job of facilitation to first find people en route to becoming buyers, lead them through to their internal change process first, and then using the sales model when they’ve become buyers.

We can help people self-identify as buyers quickly, with fewer tire-kickers, better differentiation, no competition, and sales close in half the time.


As a seller and an entrepreneur (I founded a tech company in London, Hamburg, and Stuttgart in 1983), I realized that sales ignored the buying decision problem and developed Buying Facilitation® to add to sales as a Pre-Sales tool.

Buyers get to their answers eventually; the time this takes is the length of the sales cycle, and selling doesn’t cause buying. Once I developed this model for my sellers to use, we made their process far more efficient with an 8x increase in sales – a number consistently reproduced against control groups with my global training clients over the following decades.

Buying Facilitation® adds a new capability and level of expertise and becomes a part of the decision process from the first call. Make money and make nice.

Sellers no longer need to lose prospects because they’re not ready, or cognizant of their need. They can become intermediaries between their clients and their companies; use their positions to efficiently help buyers manage internal change congruently, without manipulation; use their time to serve those who WILL buy – and know this on the first contact – and stop wasting time on those who will never buy. It’s time for sellers to use their knowledge and care to serve buyers and their companies in a win-win. Let’s make sales a spiritual practice.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

10 thoughts on “Sales as a Spiritual Practice, by Sharon-Drew Morgen”

  1. Pingback: Sales as a Spiritual Practice - Best Practice In Sales and Marketing

  2. Pingback: Sharon-Drew Morgen » The Business of Kindness

  3. Pingback: The Business of Kindness | What? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard?

  4. Pingback: The Business of Kindness | | Best Practice In Sales and Marketing

  5. Pingback: Sharon-Drew Morgen » The Fallacy of Making Appointments

  6. Pingback: Sharon-Drew Morgen » Thoughts about Surveillance Capitalism and Human Futures Marketing

  7. Pingback: The Business of Kindness - Sharon-Drew

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top