What, exactly, is selling with integrity? Is it about creating great solutions that make a difference in companies and lives? Or respecting and serving our prospects and clients and employees?
I’d like to talk about what that means for me…and admittedly, I’m a hammer looking for a nail: I’ve written a NYTimes Business Bestseller (now-outdated) on the subject (*Selling with Integrity: reinventing sales through collaboration, respect, and serving). So excuse my rant. But rant I will.
SOLUTIONS VS. CHANGE MANAGEMENT
The sales model is designed to place solutions: sellers are trained to understand need, and place a solution accordingly. Arguably, the buyer gets what they need and the seller makes a commission: win/win. But is a win/win?
In my map of the world, the above ends up as a net loss. Here’s why: because the sales model merely enters at the solution placement end of the buying decision path, it avoids and ignores the entire path buyers must traverse to enlist the right people, manage the change, and ensure system stability as they attempt to discover their best solution options. Therefore, sellers just come in at the end (or come in far too early with this data at the beginning) to offer a solution, and do not have the skill set to facilitate the back-end change management journey, leaving buyers floundering, trying to get the right people on board, and get the right agreements.
Ultimately, using the sales process without Buying Facilitation® (which manages the change management end of the buying decision journey), sellers end up closing only those buyers who show up with all of their ducks in a row (about 7%) – the low hanging fruit.
Indeed, if all of that needs assessment and relationship building and getting-past-the-gatekeeper stuff worked, we’d be closing a lot more sales. And buyers would be getting their needs met much faster: the time it takes them to figure out how to manage the backend change is the length of the sales cycle.
So by not helping manage the change and the behind-the-scenes decision path – very different from solution-focused/choice activities – we are actually harming buyers: with no help, it takes them longer than necessary to determine the folks to include in defining a solution, or figure out how to manage the change so there is no disruption, or how to get the necessary buy-in, to purchase our solution.
Net net, it obviously harms us also by elongating the sales cycle…not to mention we can’t close those prospects who can’t figure it all out.
OUR BUYERS WILL BUY EVENTUALLY – BUT NOT FROM US
The industry standard says that 80% of our prospects will buy a similar solution as ours within 2 years of us speaking with them. That means: they’ve got the need, but don’t know how to get their ducks in a row to buy. And we didn’t know how to help them figure out how to do it sooner.
Buyers don’t want to buy. They want to resolve a business problem. If they must make a purchase, they must make sure there is appropriate buy-in from the people and rules and and and…
Sellers tend to think in terms of placing a solution. Buyers think of avoiding chaos. We forget that 90% of the decision issues buyers must address before they get to the solution choice stage is based on creating an environment that will accept and adopt a new solution. The last thing they consider is making a purchase.
In my humble opinion 🙂 without helping buyers manage their change –
- getting the right folks onto the Buying Decision Team,
- finding and listening to the voices of those who will ultimately touch the new solution,
- making sure the old and new meld –
we are not in integrity with our buyers, but merely serving our product sale.
Here is the question: are you willing to go outside of your sales thinking, and start considering helping buyers manage their behind-the-scenes, non-solution-related change management issues? It’s the Buying Facilitation® process, of course, and not sales. But between the two models, we can truly sell with integrity.
*For those wishing a more complete, updated introduction to how buyers buy, the buying decision process, and the system that buyers live in, please read: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.