You think know your buyer. You don’t.

Sales folks are taught to have a certain amount of curiosity. But what, exactly, are you curious about?

You have been taught to be curious about needs. Do prospects need your solution? Are they in ‘pain’? The moment — the very moment — you hear that a ‘need’ matches your solution, you’re off and running. And you (wrongly) assume you have a prospect.


Here are some erroneous assumptions:

  • you just need to get in front of someone, and once they understand the brilliance of your solution they will be buyers;
  • if your solution matches their need, all you have to do is sell properly (and be interested, caring, smart, yada yada) and they will buy;
  • you need to educate your buyer because until they understand your solution they won’t understand the value;
  • you need to understand everything you can about your buyer so you’ll sound intelligent and engender trust and can position your solution accordingly.

I’m here to tell you that all of the above are false. A buyer cannot buy (learn all of the issues involved in the decision to buy in my latest book Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it) until

  1. all of the members of the Buying Decision Team have put in their two cents about what they need a solution to do;
  2. they know that a beloved vendor, or their internal resource (their own tech team, for example) cannot solve their problem;
  3. they get the necessary buy-in from everyone who will touch the solution;
  4. they know know how to resolve their problem without major disruption.

Here is the hardest thing for a seller to understand and believe: the only thing you will ever know about your buyer is how their need might be served by your solution from the one or two people you’re talking to.


Using the sales model alone (i.e. without putting Buying Facilitation® on the front end) you will never know the following:

  • what is going on internally, behind-the-scenes, that has created and maintained their problem, and the reason it hasn’t been resolved until now.
  • the criteria they, as Buying Decision Team, will use to choose a solution or a vendor.
  • how they will go about determining who should be on the Buying Decision Team and what internal political factors bias these choices.
  • what sort of havoc your solution will play with the status quo if the folks inside don’t figure out how to resolve the internal systems issues first.

Buyers do not want your solution. They want to resolve a business problem. Your solution is the last thing they want. I recently heard a VP of Sales Ops for a tech company tell me that they had a very long sales cycle, but there was only one buyer (the CIO) and he couldn’t figure out what took him so long.

He totally forgot that there are several departments that must buy-in to new technology; that the CIO undoubtedly delegated all or part of the solution; that the internal tech guys would fight tooth and nail before allowing yet another tech solution to come in and make a mess of what they have in place.

If he used Buying Facilitation®, he could:

  • teach the prospect how to put together a Buying Decision Team on the first call.
  • lead the buyer through all of the systemic change management issues that he’d need to address to create an openning and willingness for the folks to bring in something new — they would understand how their jobs would change and be ok with that.
  • help prospects understand how all of the current and new technology would fit and work together;
  • help prospects understsand the upsides and downsides of the learning curve, and how to mitigate or get buy-in around the learning curve.

You do not know how your buyer will manage any of that. You merely know what you think they need. And if that were enough, you’d be closing a helluva lot more sales.


Read Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it to learn all of the issues buyers face when they are considering a purchase.

Sharon-Drew is a contributor to the new Entrepreneurial Selling program by RAIN Group. Check out the free video series leading up to the program.

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top