Sales is a Flawed Model

Do you know why you don’t close all the sales you deserve to close?
Do you know, on your first prospecting call, who will buy?
Do you know where buyers go when they say ‘I’ll call you back?”
Do you know what takes buyers so long to buy when it seems so obvious to everyone – including them?

You don’t know the answers to these questions. Because the sales model is geared for solution placement. Of course you give good service, ask all the right questions, understand the need and how it fits with your solution.

But the sales model is not set up to manage the personal, human, political, strategic, and hidden systemic issues that buyers must handle internally to get the buy-in and develop the pathway to bring in a new solution. In fact, buyers have a change management problem, not a solution choice problem.

See, the buyer’s environment is kinda a system, with people, and policies, initiatives and relationships, all working together, fighting to maintain themselves (as systems are wont to do). And when they consider fixing something, they have to manage everything that touches it or face chaos. Just as you can’t just purchase a new house on the way home and announce to your family that you’re moving tomorrow, so a buyer cannot just choose a solution to add to the well-functioning mix of givens within the status quo. It’s not about the house.

To continue with the analogy, the sales model merely understands the family needs for a house and finds the house. It does not handle the fight between the parents and teenagers who don’t want to move from their friends, or the decision to move closer to in-laws, or the discussion around a possible divorce. To sell the house, these details are unnecessary. To buy the house, it’s imperative to resolve first before they know what or if to buy. And everyone must buy-in somehow before a choice is made.

I’ve developed a new skill set that works alongside of sales. It’s not sales, but it’s a change management mode that can be used in any change situation (management, negotiation, coaching) to help others reorganize and reconsider their status quo so something new can enter. The material is original, and based on a servant-leader goal, to truly help others make their best decisions.

Here’s an example. The head of Consumer Banking of Barclays Bank called to ask if Buying Facilitation® could be used with a program they were developing. Here’s the dialogue. Note that I am not doing a sales job here (that will come later – buyers need solution data only when their other decisions and internal change issues have been handled) but helping him figure out how to bring change and get buy-in… all of which would include my help at some point, but not specifically about my solution.

BANK: Can Buying Facilitation® be added to the software we are developing so customers will be able to choose the best product?
SDM: Yes. But what’s stopping your tech guys from trying to do that for you?
BANK: Nothing. They’ve already bought a few of your books and are trying to put your ideas into their software design.
SDM: So I’m hearing they’d rather do it all themselves. How would you and the rest of the Buying Decision Team know if you’d prefer the capability you’d get working with me directly or with the outcome they’d get from the tech guys using my books?
BANK: They won’t know the difference, but I’ve read some of your booksand I know that you keep some of the How To out of the books. So I know you’d provide more, but they won’t.
SDM: What should you and I do to help them decide what will be their best solution?
BANK: Let’s set up a conference call.

At that point, he named 2 department heads that needed to be involved – technology and training. I suggested he might add the heads of HR (to train 4000 people), internal consulting/project management, sales, and retail banking. He set up a conference call. On the call, the CEO of Barclays joined the call. We all worked together a month (I’m on the Buying Decision Team at this point) to figure it out. And I ended up with my piece of the pie – with no proposal, no visit to UK, no price discussion, no competition. My solution was irrelevant until they understood how they needed to bring in something new and fit it in, and until all of the right people were on board to fully define the need.

Sales is great. But if you add the change management piece to the front end – before you sell, or understand needs, or make a presentation – you can easily know: who will close, approximately when, and how to help them discover, prepare, and facilitate buy-in for the buyer…and, get onto the Buying Decision Team on the first call. And halve the sales cycle.

Until or unless buyers have all of the change management issues covered, they will not buy, regardless of the match between your solution and their need: they are doing ‘well-enough’, and if they could have resolved the issue, they would have already. Add Buying Facilitation® to your tool kit, and increase your productivity.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? and 7 books on decision/change facilitation in selling/buying decisions including the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a generic change management model that enables leaders to facilitate clients through their change decisions (for sellers, coaches, leaders, negotiators). She coaches, trains, keynotes, and consults in the areas of sales, listening, change, and leadership.

In addition to introducing a model in What? that enables readers to circumvent their brain’s filters, Sharon-Drew has developed an on-line Listening Assessment to make it possible to recognize where biases lie, and a Listening Tool to help individuals and teams learn how to circumvent the unconscious and listen without any filters or bias. There is also a one-day training program to teach teams how to listen to each other and clients with no bias.
Contact Sharon-Drew directly with questions. 512 771 1117


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