Solution Selection: do we know how buyers choose one solution over another?

Your solution matches the buyer’s need perfectly. You like them, they like you, you’ve had coffee/a meal/a powerful meeting or two. They talk about implementation and how they need to add your other product next year. And then they buy from someone else. Or not at all.

What happened? Are they stupid? Did they lie to you? Are they making an emotional decision?

Not stupid. Didn’t lie. No emtional decision making. Maybe the need shifted, or the two new members of the Buying Decision Team added buying criteria, or they were able to get a partial solution from a current vendor.

But most likely, it just took them quite a while to recognize all of the folks who needed to be on the Buying Decision Team and once they were all on board, the criteria for choosing a solution shifted.

Whatever the truth is, we’ll never know how buyers choose one solution over another so long as we’re using the sales model alone. Without adding some Buying Facilitation® components, sellers have a tough time becoming part of the change management process that buyers must manage to not only implement the solution, but actually define their criteria for selection.


Here are some criteria buyers will need to figure out as they move through their solution selection process:

  • have all people who will touch the solution defined their criteria for what they achieve from a new solution?
  • do they know how they will implement the solution and ensure the new and old will work together?
  • how will they prioritize the timing and resource for bringing in a new solution?
  • how will a new solution effect their job description, their relationships, their daily responsibilities and activies?

Generally, when we meet a prospect, they haven’t figured out all of the above because all of the right people aren’t on board yet to lend their voices to what a solution would need to be for their jobs. Until they do, they can’t buy – regardless of how well our solution matches the need they discuss with us.

The choice of the actual solution is the very last thing the buyer does: until or unless there is appropriate buy-in and everyone who touches the new solution knows how to implement, and all change management criteria have been met, and everyone on the Buying Decision Team has similar buying criteria, they won’t buy – regardless of how friendly you are, or how well your solution meshes with their need.

Think about making a purchase yourself. Well before you hand over your money, you’ve had to make internal decisions. Do you need X right now? Do you need to do Y first? How will your family be involved? How will your behaviors change – and how much change are you willing to take on? Do you wait until a new version comes out?  Do you need to have a handover or integration or learning curve between the old and new… and how will that get done? When do you have the time to research, change, discuss? Who do you want to get ideas/input from?

It’s not about the solution – until it is.

How do you plan on helping your prospects think through all of the issues they’ll need to manage prior to being able to use your solution? How will you enter the conversation once you realize that a prospect’s need and your solution are the last things you discuss?

Buying Facilitation® will help you enter the conversation to help buyers uncover their approach to being excellent. After all, if they have no road map to thinking it all through, it will end up being a long, messy process that will seriously bias the timing of the purchase. But you can help guide them through all of the ins and outs of making the necessary decisions and getting the right people on board.

Yes, it’s a different skill and focus than just using sales alone. But would you rather sell? or have someone buy?

Sharon-Drew Morgen is the author of 9 books, including NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, and What? Did you really say what I think I heard? She has developed facilitation material for sales/change management, coaching, and listening. To learn more about her sales, decision making, and change management material, (  go to To learn more about her work on closing the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, go to Contact Sharon-Drew for training, keynotes, or online programs at Sharon-Drew is currently designing programs for coaches to Find and Keep the Ideal Client, and Lead Facilitation for Lead Generation.

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