Sellers can’t control the buyer’s decision journey

Sales folks like having control. You ‘understand the need’, ‘manage the relationship‘, ‘follow the digital footprint’, send the ‘right’ data at the ‘right’ time.

But what, exactly, can you be in control of? You are in control of the details about your solution, and how it’s used in a particular setting, and the data you seek from prospects. You certainly have control over how you enter, and maintain, the relationship. But that is the sum total of what you’re in control of.

Obviously it’s easy to spot a need that matches your solution. But the number of buyers who buy is much, much lower than those you’re following, or those who really have a need that your solution will support.

In fact, most of your time is spent selling to folks who won’t buy. And then when the phone rings with a closed sale, it’s a surprise: you have no idea which of those to whom you are selling will be buyers. In fact, all your prospects seem like buyers. But they’re not. And you don’t know the difference until – well, until they don’t buy.

So it’s obviously not a direct match: need does not equal purchase; time selling doesn’t equal a closed sale. And therefore, ultimately, you are out of control of the actual buy.


Buyers don’t know what issues they must confront in order to get the appropriate buy-in to make a purchase. There is so much more going on behind the scenes than you can ever be aware of or have control over, and almost none of it is needs-related, thereby leaving you out of control when it comes to when, or how, or why, or if, a prospect will buy.

Until or unless the prospect (or lead) gets the appropriate buy-in to bring in a new solution, they will do nothing. And this buy-in is based on the change management issues the buyer must handle behind-the-scenes:

  • if there is not buy-in from everyone who touches the solution, there will be no purchase;
  • if there is not a way to meld the new solution with whatever is there now, there will be no purchase;
  • if the regular vendor is not in some way ‘managed’, they will not buy;
  • if there are turf battles, personality battles, or internal politics involved with trying to resolve a problem, no solution will be purchased.

Because the sales model is solution-placement focused, sellers mistakenly believe that with a need/solution match, there will be a sale. But that’s of course not true 90% of the time. In fact, that belief puts sellers out of control: a buying decision is not made via the sales process. And you should care because you are wasting so much time, and losing so much commission by focusing on the ‘pain’ and the ‘need’ and not focusing first on influencing the complete buying decision path from the beginning. Of course you must sell when it’s the right time; but by that time the buyer has already made the majority of the necessary decisions.


As long as sellers focus on placing a solution rather than facilitating the decision path that buyers go through as they attempt to bring all of the right people on board and manage change in a way that doesn’t leave behind chaos, you will merely close the low hanging fruit.

If you want real control, facilitate the buying decision path from the beginning: from where they are and an idea for something better, to figuring out what to do with the current situation and workarounds, to what needs to change; from how to use what they are using now to adding something new and fitting the old and new together; from needing a solution to getting the relevant buy-in.

Buying Facilitation® is the model I’ve created to accomplish this: it’s a change management/decision facilitation model (not a selling model) that leads buyers through their entire buying decision journey from the first idea, through to the inclusion of the full Buying Decision Team and getting their buy-in. In conjunction with sales, it truly facilitates the buyer’s decision journey.

If you want real control, lead buyers through their back-end change management issues before you start selling. They have to do this anyway – with you or without you. By helping them navigate, and using the very proscribed model I’ve developed specifically for this purpose, you are fully in control.  I’m not suggesting you stop selling; I’m suggesting you help buyers manage their decision path first.


Buying Facilitation® licensing program: July 1-7, Austin TX.

Webinar with Method Frameworks June 15th:
Buy-in: A Radical Approach To Change Management

Learn Buying Facilitation®Implement Buying Facilitation®License Buying Facilitation®

2 thoughts on “Sellers can’t control the buyer’s decision journey”

  1. Pingback: Facilitating the Buyer’s Journey: a definition | Sharon-Drew Morgen

  2. Pingback: Forecasting closed sales: how you will know when a buyer will close | Sharon-Drew Morgen

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