Buyers don’t sit and wait for sellers

Around 85% of a buyer’s pre-purchase, back-end decision issues get addressed privately, outside of the seller’s purview, and a seller has no place at the table. Here is where we lose our sales – as buyers manage the internal politics, and the strategic/change issues – not because our solutions aren’t relevant or because we haven’t done a good job selling.

The sales process discovers need, gathers data to determine a solution fit, and places the solution. Buyers need that data and the sales function is vital. But first they absolutely must make sure that a new solution fits comfortably, and causes no major disruption on a human or a strategic level.


The modern sales model came into full flower (although it’s been around since the Serpent convinced Eve to eat the apple) in 1937 with Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  At that time, gathering needs and discussing solution was simple: there were very few competitive solutions, and very little capability for buyers to get the information they needed.

Times have changed, but the sales model hasn’t changed its goals and thrust toward solution placement, even as astonishing technology is available to help.

The buyer’s entire behind-the-scenes pre-purchase buy-in process remains unaddressed and these back-end issues are far more confounding now than they were in 1937. And nothing about the sales model – even when marketing automation and sales enablement is applied – addresses these off-line issues.

Unfortunately, sales treats a ‘need’ as if it were an isolated event, and separate from the day-to-day activities and rules inherent in the buyer’s environment. But until everyone (EVERYONE) is on board with the level and specifics of the change that would be required if they were to make a purchase, buyers can’t buy (see my latest book Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it): the disruption to their system would be well beyond the positives of solving one of their problems.

It’s estimated that 80% of buyers will purchase a solution (yours or your competitor’s) at some point within 2 years of their first contact with a sales professional. That leaves behind a trail of dead sales people – most of whom probably had a great solution, but were either too early in the buyer’s decision cycle, or their Buying Decision Team just didn’t know how to adopt the change a new solution would bring.


Why is the personal, political, human side of the buying journey ignored during a seller’s outreach? Why is it assumed that the seller ‘knows’ what the buyer needs, or ‘knows’ what’s going on behind the scenes, and assumes that that ‘knowing’ is sufficient to sell a solution?

Why do sellers prefer to wait for buyers to ‘show up’ after they’ve traversed their perilous back-end, political journey rather than adding a new skill set to help them manage the change and buy-in issues (and close sales in 1/8 the time)?

Why is the focus on making an appointment, assuming that once the buyer sees your bright, shiny (and professional, naturally) face the buyer will just ignore the policy problems, and internal politics, they need to manage before they buy? Sales people lose over 90% of their prospects by focusing on an appointment, when it’s so simple to help buyers recognize their buying steps on the first call. And when they invite you to meet, they will have the entire Buying Decision Team.

What needs to happen for sellers to recognize that a buying journey is far, far more complex than fixing a need? Or that the need is sitting and waiting for the seller to show up? Or that the need is just sitting on a shelf, by itself, and can be plucked out and fixed and then put back where it was with no ramifications to the rest of the buyer’s system?

Why is it so difficult for sellers to want to add a capability to support the 90%+ of what buyers are doing off-line, without them, and prefer instead to contain their skills to solution focus and lose a very high percentage of prospective sales?

What would you need to know or believe differently in order to add a decision facilitation skill – Buying Facilitation Method® – to your current sales skills to help buyers achieve this buy in?

Buyers need to resolve a (business) problem – they don’t necessarily need your solution. But until or unless they manage their own off-line, back-end change management issues, they cannot buy.

Your job should be to help them manage the buying journey – and THEN you can sell.


There are many ways to learn Buying Facilitation®:


Have Sharon-Drew speak on facilitating buying decisions at your next conference. Learn about her topics and see her in action on
Contact her directly at

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