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Facilitating Success, One Decision At A Time

Sharon Drew Morgen

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Get it right: shift focus to the buy side

Do you want to sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities. In sales and marketing, we’ve focused on the sell side. In October, Pat Spenner of CEB wrote an article in Forbes titled: You’re Doing it Wrong: Demand Generation. This is the first time I’m aware of that a mainstream publication has noticed that the problem – applicable to both sales and marketing – is on the consensus management, or ‘buy-in’ side. I’m delighted I’m no longer the lone voice discussing or resolving the problem.

Since the inception of sales and marketing we’ve believed that some sort of information utilization – getting the right information at the right time to the right people, discovering a need or a probable demographic, managing objections, getting appointments, having great ads and sites – will lead to a sale. But we’re only closing the low-hanging fruit. – approximately 7% fromfirst call (although some like to fudge a bit and count from connections and proclaim they close 20%). The rest clearly need us. Why aren’t they buying?

A BUYER’S DECISION PATH IS SYSTEMS BASED, NOT SOLUTION FOCUSED

Unfortunately, 90% of the buying decision path – a confusing journey fraught with unresolved people, management, and strategic obstacles – occurs outside our purview, withouthelp from us, and not based on our solution. Indeed, buying a solution – the final 10% of the decision path – isn’t relevant at all unless buyers get the requisite consensus and personal buy-in from all whose jobs will be involved with any resultant change.

Spenner calls the buyer’s consensus issues ‘dysfunction’. I disagree. Because a buying decision is a systems change issue, not a solution choice issue, buyers must first address their rules, roles, people, money, and management issues before they can buy. And, as sellers and marketers who exist outside the system, it may seem like dysfunction to us because we recognize a need/solutions match they seem to be ignoring.

But they may not be ignoring their needs or our solution; they just might be dealing with the steps they must take to enable efficient change (There are actually 13 steps buyers must take, from idea to purchase, and our solution orientation enters at step 10.). Remember we learned as kids that a system is homeostatic, and will resist if something from the outside attempts to get in or change it? It’s impossible to take one piece out and put something else in without garnering resistance. So we’re pushing information and solutions at the wrong time and in the wrong place and probably creating the resistance we’re getting.

Imagine announcing to your spouse you just bought a great house on the way home and you want the family to move next week. Or a CEO who decides on her own to buy new software for her 1000 person company and announces to the tech folks, users, marketing folks, and accounting group that there will be an implementation next week. It’s not about the house, the software or the need; there is no buy-in, no consensus, no reorganization, no change management.

It’s hard for us to grasp that, like all systems we are not a member of, a buyer’s system (separate from what we perceive is a need) is outside of our purview. We will never understand the fallout from past implementations or how techies and user groups must adjust personally and professionally to a new implementation. Can sales and marketing share budget without killing each other? Does the gym membership make sense to a 400 pound man who does not see himself as overweight?

Only the insiders can address these personal issues and, until they do, buyers cannot buy regardless of the efficacy of our solution. It’s a systems problem – not a sign of dysfunction but a sign of a healthy system that will not compromise the functionality of their culture. And the time it takes for all the right elements to buy-in is the length of the sales cycle; we are not respecting our buyers enough to realize they would have fixed the problem already if their system were ready, willing, and able to change.

A BUYING DECISION IS A CHANGE MANAGEMENT PROBLEM

In today’s internet information-laden environment, buyers now show up only when they’ve done the first 90% without us, causing us to focus more and more on the very last thing they need, giving us less opportunity to enter earlier and creating more competition and price issues. But we’d have a real competitive advantage if we could use both sales and marketing capability to be the neutral navigators guiding them through their behind-the-scenes issues.

I’ve developed a Buying Facilitation® model that does just that – enabling the non-solution-based decision along each step of the journey. For 26 years I’ve been teaching sellers in global corporations in B2B and B2C how to facilitate consensus, assemble the appropriate Buying Decision Team, and change without disruption. Marketing can enter at any place along the path; selling is used once they are ready for a purchase. So Buying Facilitation® + Marketing then Sales. And then the competition is vastly diminished as the seller and solution have been built into the consensus.

My clients get very different results than using sales alone. On average, over decades, industries, and price points, against control groups using just the sales model alone we’ve gotten, on average, 600% increase over sales. It seems large, but it’s not an equal comparison since the sales model alone would not close 40% of prospects fromfirst call (control groups of sellers using the same lists get a 7% close on average depending on the industry).

Let’s use our marketing and sales models to better effect in this environment. Let’s help buyers buy. Then we can sell.

Sharon Drew Morgen | 512-457-0246 | sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com

Get it right: shift focus to the buy side is a post from: SharonDrewMorgen.com

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More Stories By Sharon Drew Morgen

Sharon Drew Morgen is the visionary and thought leader behind Buying Facilitation® the new sales paradigm that focuses on helping buyers manage their buying decision. She is the author of the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity as well as 5 other books and hundreds of articles that explain different aspects of the decision facilitation model that teaches buyers how to buy.

Morgen dramatically shifts the buying decision tools from solution-focused to decision-support. Sales very competently manages the solution placement end of the decision, yet buyers have been left on their own while sellers are left waiting for a response, and hoping they can close. But no longer: Morgen actually gives sellers the tools to lead buyers through all of their internal, idiosyncratic decisions.

Morgen teaches Buying Facilitation® to global corporations, and she licenses the material with training companies seeking to add new skills to what they are already offering their clients. She has a new book coming out October 15, 2009 called Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it which defines what is happening within buyer’s cultures (systems) and explains how they make the decisions they make.

Morgen has focused on the servant-leader/decision facilitation aspect of sales since her first book came out in 1992, called Sales On The Line.
In all of her books, she unmasks the behind-the-scenes decisions that need to go on before buyers choose a solution, and gives sellers the tools to aid them.

In addition, Morgen changes the success rate of sales from the accepted 10% to 40%: the time it takes buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle, and her books – especially Dirty Little Secrets – teaches sellers how to guide the buyers through to all of their decisions, thereby shifting the sales cycle from a failed model that only manages half of the buying cycle, to a very competent Professional skill set.

Morgen lives in Austin TX, where she dances and works with children’s fund raising projects in her spare time.