The Funnelholic will write again! Just not today … .
Great content is great content, and when I get the opportunity to publish anything that helps us market and sell better, I’ll do it. Today’s post is from Sharon Drew Morgen who is a prolific writer, speaker and coach on the world of sales. (By the way, she just wrote a great brief for Focus.com as well.) Why is she on The Funnelholic? Because her framework for looking at selling in today’s markets is important for everyone in the funnel to understand. Please enjoy and check out Sharon Drew’s upcoming book.
Without further delay, here’s Sharon Drew Morgen’s take on what’s happening behind the scenes in a buyer’s environment:
As sellers, we don’t often think beyond understanding “need” and placing our “solution.” We tend to believe that because the buyer’s need matches our offering, and because we’re professionals who “care,” the only thing the buyer needs to do is choose our solution.
Of course, if it were that easy we’d close a lot more sales. We certainly wouldn’t lose as many sales as we do. The problem is that buying decisions are much more complex than we acknowledge.
Indeed, we treat a “need” as if it were an isolated event. But it’s not. The buyer’s “need” is merely a result of historic, internal decisions, and only the buyer can figure out how to address his or her need. Unfortunately, this all takes place behind the scenes and sellers will never be privy to what’s going on.
To think about this, let’s start with this question: How did a buyer’s “need” arise? It didn’t appear overnight. Buyers and their internal policies agreed to allow it to happen. So the “need” was created behind the scenes and has amassed people and policies and that are in place when we meet our prospects.
Not only that, the system, rules, people and policies have allowed the “need” to remain as it is, or they would have addressed it already. Before buyers can consume anything they first look at their current teams, partner groups, rules and historic decisions for a simple resolution. They must also figure out and manage the very idiosyncratic and mysterious ramifications of change.
Before buyers buy they must have answers to these questions: What will a solution change internally? Who must buy-in to change, and how will their groups or teams work differently with something new? How will the work-arounds be managed? How will the people and policies interact differently if or when they decide to bring in something different?
When Do Buyers Start Figuring out Stuff?
Different from what we’ve been taught, buyers don’t start figuring out their behind the scenes issues until after we’ve met them, except in cases when buyers contact sellers first, in which case they’ve made these decisions before they called. The time it takes buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle. And they don’t start with seeking a solution.
Buyers first try to resolve their problem internally. Before a customer will buy or choose any solution at all, they must first determine and manage their very idiosyncratic and mysterious ramifications of change. What will a solution change internally? How will the people and policies interact differently if or when they decide to resolve a need and bring in something new and different?
Obviously, the sales model doesn’t equip us with the tools we need to help buyers manage these issues, and we cannot do it for them.
In fact, sellers come in at the wrong time, pitching a solution to a small portion of the ultimate Buying Decision Team, and have no resources to help buyers do what they must do before they can manage the off-line, behind-the-scenes decisions that need to be made for them to get buy-in for change.
As we think about sales, and wonder how to close more sales quicker, we must realize that by merely focusing on the solution-placement area, and our “understandings” – understanding need, understanding the decision making, understanding the requirements, helping buyers understand our the judiciousness of our offering – we are not helping the buyer do the behind-the-scenes work they must accomplish before making a buying decision. That work is private, idiosyncratic, personal, unique and not open to outsiders.
Unfortunately, buyers don’t know how to do this work easily because it’s new to them. But we can help with a different set of skills.
We can help buyers by guiding them through decision issues. We will then be decision facilitators, true servant leaders, true trusted advisors and relationship managers, and direct them through their systemic, off-line, buying decision issues.
This is not sales. It’s a wholly different skill set that is not engaged in placing a solution, but truly focused on guiding decisions from outside. In this time of economic uncertainty, add Buying Facilitation® and differentiate from your competition – and truly help your buyer buy. And, stop selling.