NEEDS DOES NOT CLOSE...
This past week I placed 700 cold calls. Thatís right.
Seven hundred. Count Ďem. I have been seeking visionary
sales training managers that have interest in licensing
new program content (Buying Facilitation or Facilitating
Buying Decisions) and itís impossible to find
visionaries through mainstream marketing. So I called.
I learned a lot: 1. how I felt by 4:00 in the afternoon
Ė exhausted, annoyed, mischievous, and vaguely
victorious Ė as a telemarketer; 2. how sales leaders Ė
VPs of Sales, Sales Managers, and Heads of Sales
Training Ė perceive their level of success in relation
to how they decide to add course titles; 3. how much
willingness corporations have for exploring
Interestingly, of the 200 people that I actually got to
speak with, I heard the same thing over and over again:
ďWe are Relationship Managers. We truly care about
giving our customers great products, great service, and
fair value. We take time to understand their needs
before we introduce our products, and only offer product
data if we think we can help.Ē All said with a somber
tone to convey the basic belief that they teach the
skills that exhibit care and connection, problem-solving
and information gathering. I heard those sentiments
close to 100% of the time.
Lovely. Except it doesnít work. Each of them said that
they were still closing less than 10% of their prospects
(from first prospecting call to closed sale). Therefore,
they must assume that what they are doing, and the
commensurate results, is successful. So thatís what
success looks like.
RELATIONSHIPS DONíT CREATE A PURCHASE
The real question is what is
going on here? Wanting a real relationship with your
customer and caring about their needs is like Mom
and Apple Pie: you canít argue with that sentiment.
But letís get some reality here:
1. if that plan of action were successful, theyíd be
closing a lot more than under 10%.;
2. everyone is
doing the same thing. Every. One. That means that
everyone is being nice-kind-smart-caring-service
oriented. That means that you are no longer
differentiated. And if you canít differentiate by
being nice-kind-smart-caring-service oriented, what
does that leave? Two things: a. price. If everything
looks the same, the only differentiator becomes
price. b. personal preference. You have to find THAT
prospect that you hit it off with really well (i.e.
your selling patterns match her buying patterns).
Yet if personality is the deciding factor, you
better go out and visit lots of people
to find those whose personality is similar to yours.
3. understanding the buyerís Identified Problem is
only a small fraction of the route toward a buying
decision, and a secondary one at that. Not to
mention that the seller will never understand the
full range of unique, internal issues the buyer
needs to manage before being able to buy. Problem
solving questions certainly donít teach the buyer
how to examine those areas beyond the bounds of the
Identified Problem that have gotten them, and keep
them, where they are at and would need to be
reconfigured before change can take place.
4. an outsider will never, ever understand the full
range of elements that buyers live within: before
they can make a purchasing decision they must manage
and shift the elements that created their status
quo, or Identified Problem.
5. sellers canít have a Ďreal relationshipí with a
prospect. It takes time, history, activity, and
agreement of mutual benefit. Everyone knows that
sellers begin Ďrelationshipsí as a way to show the
prospect that they are Ďniceí, trustworthy, able to
sell product, and keep customers happy: there is no
real Ďrelationshipí Ė certainly not one at the
prospect phase that would cause a prospect to make a
purchase from you, rather than another vendor,
unless your price is as low as your competitor and
they like you better.
ITíS BIGGER THAN UNDERSTANDING
To help you understand that there
is a much larger picture operating here, letís look
at a prospect calling in with a very simple Ďneedí
that would be defined as an easy sale.
Letís say you
sell desktop computers. The buyer is calling for
data to possibly purchase one computer for an
in-house group of techies. Seems like a simple sale.
The buyer goes away and will call you back. Given it
appears so simplistic, what is he waiting for? Maybe
the prospect has a political decision as to
where to seat the new recruit Ė with the others in
the tech department? or to break ranks and put the
new person with the department that heíll be working
with? Maybe itís a logistics decision: the
prospect isnít sure if the new person will get the
new desktop, or take an old one, and one of the
older programmers will get the new machine as a
perk. Maybe there is a budget decision going
on: who will pay for the computer - the tech
department, the user department, or the R&D
Are you getting the point here? Being able to sell
the right computer at a good price and caring
service is not the issue. Oh, certainly, itís one of
the issues that will help the final decision get
made and help the prospect choose between vendors.
But itís not part of the foundational deciding
factors. The prospect must first manage internal
Even if you had some personal preferences to how
they might manage their political, logistical, or
financial decisions, you canít make their decisions
for them. Outsiders donít have that type of power or
credibility. Not to mention that even if the
insiders shared the history of what has happened
until the present, an outsider couldnít manage the
deep- seated politics and relationships that would
need to be addressed.
Going for the Relationship, working at Problem
Solving, and Understanding Needs doesnít manage the
buying decision process, although those skills will
help with the final closing process. First your
buyer must manage their internal issues and get
buy-in. Otherwise, even bringing in something simple
like a new computer can cause disruption. And the
time it takes buyers to come up with their own
answers is the length of the sales cycle.
Of course you care about your customers, but I think
that means something different. For me, caring about
your customers means helping them solve their
business problem more efficiently. Thatís all they
want. They donít want your relationship. They donít
want your product. They donít want you. They merely
want to solve a business problem.
Helping buyers attempt to resolve a problem by
Problem Solving and Relationship Management and
Understanding Needs is your way of Placing Product.
Itís not caring about your customer.
HELPING BUYERS CHOOSE YOU
Surely there must be easier ways
for buyers to choose you than to try to convince
them that you, better than the others attempting to
do the same thing, are their Relationship Partner.
Sales, as a model, has been used to Place Product
and Problem Solve. The means to do this has been to
Understand Needs. Youíve gotten extremely good at
doing these things and your company has done a great
job giving you good, branded, well-positioned and
priced product to sell. But you are still closing
only a fraction of the sales you deserve to close.
Why not use sales as a means to support the buyerís
Until now, having unbiased tools to help your buyer
manage their own internal, idiosyncratic,
systems-based decisions (that have actually created
the Identified Problem as it appears) has not been
part of the sales model, nor has it been in the
consciousness of the industry. The entire industry
has assumed that if a seller can find the right
prospect, with the right problem that fits with your
solution, there should be a match.
You have been trained to ask great questions to
Understand the Problem, but you fail to recognize
that you are asking biased questions as if the
Identified Problem is an isolated event. It would be
like asking what the person in the computer example
above what she would do with the computer or how
much memory is needed, but not asking how sheíd know
to choose one provider over another given that
competing products were so similar.
With just a few Facilitative Questions up front, you
can easily direct the buyer to all of his decisions,
prior to discussing product or needs. Now, you
canít go any further than the data you are being
given. And letís face facts: your questions are
biased toward solving what your product can resolve,
and your questions donít help the buyer recognize
the full range of issues they encounter every day
within the system they live within (the people,
policies, relationships, strategies, vendor
FACILITATE THE DECISION PROCESS
BEFORE OFFERING SOLUTION
Buying Facilitation codes the
process that buyers must go through as they make the
necessary decisions to seek an external solution.
Itís not problem solving, product placement, or
understanding needs. Itís decision facilitation and
a different part of the sales process to the one
youíre currently focusing on.
Until or unless a buyer can recognize and manage
their internal elements that created the problem and
that hold it in place, they cannot make a purchasing
decision. It would be like giving a youngster a
brand new car the day following a drunken smash-up:
until you all get to the root cause and learn how to
manage the Identified Problem through change, any
attempt to resolve the situation would create more
disaster. And finding out what type of car the kid
needs is moot until that happens.
Buying Facilitation will give you the vehicle to be
a real Relationship Manager. What elements created
and maintain the status quo? What is keeping it in
place? What has stopped it from being resolved
already? Who needs to lead the internal Ďpackí
toward the new behaviors or decisions they will need
to make to adopt something new? The buyer needs to
know the answers to these questions. You donít.
difficult thing for you is to recognize that the
prospect needs to Understand the Problem.
You need to act as a neutral navigator through their
examination process at the front end of the sales
process. First support the buying decision,
then problem solve, understand, and place product as
you support the product decision which will
You knowing how the problem got where it is now will
not help the buyer make the internal shifts
necessary toward resolution:
You canít make the buyerís
decision for him;
You donít have the internal
relationships, the history, the team trust to
You are an outsider, and
until you are hired by the prospect, you will
never fully understand anything more than the
area immediately around the Identified Problem.
You wonít be able to tell the
CEO that he hired the wrong people, or needs to
shift departments heads, etc. unless you are an
Executive Coach and are paid to do this;
You wonít be able to address
the entire decision team and get them to change
direction, disconnect relationships, or fire the
current vendor unless you are an internal
change-management consultant getting paid to do
Unfortunately for you, the buyer
just has to do this part alone. But you can help
define the structure of the process for them. Not to
mention that the buyer will have all of the answers
and then be able to make a purchasing decision in
half the time, without a price criterion. You
helping the buyer know these things for himself will
encourage the trust you have been seeking by Problem
Solving, Understanding Needs, and Placing Product.
Facilitation to your skill set. Start with the ebook
Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that
expands and influences decisions as a way to
understand all of the decisions buyers need to make
before theyíll buy. Consider taking a training that
will teach you how to help buyers make and manage
their decisions. Then add the new skill to your
sales model. It will give you the ability to manage
the sales cycle as an outsider who has both the
skill and care to be a real Relationship Manager.
Would you rather sell? Or have someone buy?
ABOUT MORGEN FACILITATIONS INC.
Buying Facilitation Methodģ with Sharon Drew. Sharon
Drew is running a rare public training to teach
Buying Facilitation on May 14-16. Participation is
being held to 10 people, so if you have interest,
let us know. The program is part of our Licensing
Partners program, so If you desire a license to
train your employees or clients, stay the week and
walk away with a license. To see the program
syllabus, take-aways, and program outline, go to:
model used follows the decision facilitation
sequence: we have nothing to teach if you have
nothing to learn, just as you have nothing to sell
if a buyer has nothing to buy. With that in mind, we
run a Learning Facilitation program that teaches
learners how to unravel their status quo as a sales
professional and discover what works, what doesnít,
what they can fix themselves, and what they need to
learn from us. Itís a unique program that teaches as
much in a few days as one would expect to learn in
months of conventional information-based training.
will be working with a small, hand-picked group of
prospective licensees to make it possible for the
Method, and the new program Facilitating Buying
Decisions, to be trained through other venues in the
If you need
to discuss your situation with Sharon Drew, set up
an appointment with her at
One of our Licensing Partners, Ted
Elvhage from Sweden, is writing a daily blog on using
and learning Buying Facilitation. For those interested,
http://buyingfacilitator.blogspot.com. Iím sure you can
write to him and ask questions or make comments.
As always, we
are here to serve you.