In 1988, with KLM as my client, I ran my first Buying Facilitation Method® program. Thankfully, even in those early days when I didn’t have the luxury of a blog or social media, I was able to find folks who understood the difference between the solution sale and the change management issues buyers address privately. Lots of cold calls 😉
For the first 10 years I sought partners by making cold calls and using Buying Facilitation™ on whoever answered the phone. I also wrote my first books, Sales on the Line; SOMEBODY makes a difference, and Selling with Integrity.
For 5 of those years I spoke at Spirituality in Business conferences (often paying my own way and getting a suite with books because no one would invite me to speak) to audiences who didn’t believe it was possible to make any money if they were to be spiritual. I was not welcomed.
I managed to get in front of small groups who argued with me (or walked out or cancelled membership in organizations that would hire someone as blasphemous as me), and wrote articles that got hackles up and noses bent. Occassionally people would be excited.
THE VOICE OF SERVANT-LEADERSHIP IN SALES
I knew at some level that my job, my life’s work if you will, was to bring a servant-leader, change management model into sales – a field whose foundation was a greed-filled, manipulative enterprise that had no inkling that it was possible to close a lot more sales by helping buyers manage their internal change, and also to make money by doing good.
It’s been a bit easier lately. For the past 10 years, I have trained many global corporations, consulted to dozens of sales forces, licensed a few folks around the world (none in the US to date, unfortunately), written over 1000 articles and 420 blog posts, and put ‘decision facilitation’ ‘the buying decision process’ ‘how buyers buy’ ‘Buying Decision Team’ ‘facilitative questions’ ‘buyer’s journey’ and ‘Buying Facilitation™’ into the industry parlance. Not everyone knows that I am the innovator behind these concepts.
Through it all there have been visionary clients, hard-core friends, readers and fans, who have all applauded my efforts and kept me going, even when I lost heart. I keep on my desk a couple of reminders:
Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. – Margaret Mead
Life shrinks or expands in relation to one’s courage.
There certianly have been times I doubted myself, when I wanted to cave in to mainstream thinking, or get a real job: people have not always been kind, and I must keep reminding myself (daily, sometimes) that I’m a change agent, and that change agents aren’t always loved or accepted (although I have always longed for acceptance); for decades, I fought what felt like the world. I constantly hope that I won’t end up in a coffin with one ear, poverty stricken like Van Gogh.
I LIVE WITH A VISION
But I’ve always had the vision – since I’ve been 11 years old – that I have a piece of what people need to attain Excellence: I’ve known that my job has been to lead the way, to develop material to enable change and to make it possible for us serve each other.
And now, finally, the world is finding me. Thankfully, folks in the change management industry as well as Buying Psych and negotiating folks, marketing folks and customer service folks, systems thinkers and educators. are seeking me out to develop programs and technology. My model is finally becoming recognized as an important addition to sales, change management, and communication. My dream is to have an institute in which I teach parents, and couples, and teachers, and and and … My dream is to develop the skills so everyone can serve each other in making their best decisions.
As the new decade nears, I predict that 10 years from now I won’t be writing a blog. My Buying Facilitation Method® will be taught to all sales people as part of the sales process. It will be taught in business schools that won’t talk to me now, in companies that currently use only solution-focused selling methods, in sales training companies along with consultative selling models. Smarter people than I will move the material forward, just as consultative selling has gone beyond its creator Linda Richardson.
I close the decade with a sense of satisfaction: I’ve taken an idea, developed it, developed it more, made it useful and usable, put it into sales and change management and decision making, customer service and negotiating. I’ve developed technology to help buyers through their decision making, and programs to help sellers through their learning.
I can sit back with the knowledge that I’ve made a difference. And, after the dark years when I wondered if I would ever actually ‘see the light’ aside, I’ve found the sunshine. And I’m happy.
Thanks, everyone. Thanks for your belief in me, your patience with me, your openness to change and being flexible, and your true care for people and each other. I’m honored to have taken the journey. It was a life worth living.
As I write my final Monday blog for the decade, I wish you all happy holidays. Remember to care for each other and the earth. Remember that if there aren’t any voices that shout the cranky, strange ideas, no change can occur — and find those people and support them as they fight the status quo.
And then imagine that the world we’re building will have people who serve each other. At the end of the day, that’s all there is. Just you, and me. And between us, we can heal the world.