Sharon Drew Morgan


I’ve been hearing so many of you finally agree with my decades-old concepts that elevate the buying decision as the focal point of the sales exercise: it’s not about the product – although of course that must be sold; it’s about the buying decision. Without the buyer making a buying decision, the value of your product is moot.

It’s been quite surprising to me, however, that sellers seem to think that understanding how buyers make their buying decisions would be the central theme of the ‘new realizations’.

How can you know how to position your product when you ‘understand’ how the buyer is deciding? Does that mean you’ll use three syllable words because you think the main decision maker is a senior exec? Or you’ll do an end-run and get someone who knows someone who knows someone to influence this person? Or use different sales styles or sales people when you know who your competition is? Or create better slides or presentations or more dynamic pitches to hit the ‘sweet spot’ in an irrefutable way?


Actually, there is no way to understand the internal workings of how anyone decides, let alone a group that is outside of your immediate sphere of influence.

Lately I’ve heard things like:
“We now ask buyers how they make their buying decisions.”
“The conversation is now about the buying decision, NOT the product.”
“When we understand how the buyers are buying, then we know how to position our products.”

Let me take each one of these and explain why they are moot, and why it doesn’t help the sales cycle. Then I'll explain what does work and why buyer's buy at all.

Do you understand why your parents have remained married for decades? Do you understand why your boss remains in his/her job? What happens when you ask? Do you get the ‘complete’ answer? Does the person know all of the specifics of how to answer the question?

If it’s a team’s decision you’re inquiring about, do you know the internal ramifications of a decision being made through X department vs. Y department? And, what happened before now that created the status quo that has led to the Identified Problem that needs to be resolved?

How do you know that the decision process used last time - assuming the same exact decision makers using the same process in the same time frame around the same type of implementation - will be the same one used this time?

There is no way – no way at all – that an outsider can understand the specifics and richness of how decisions get made. Just because the ‘process’ is conveyed doesn’t mean an outsider can understand the weighting of each decision element or person, the politics behind the people making the decisions and their interplay, the market/strategic/political forces behind the decision factors and people.

And what exactly does it give you to understand the decision making process? Are they doing it ‘wrong’ – and can you tell them that? Are they going about it in a way that most probably will not lead them to purchasing your product – and can you shift that? If you position your product in a way that seems to align with their decision making process, does it help them manage the internal politics necessary before change can happen?


The answer to all of the above is ‘no’. It’s not about you, it’s not about your product, it’s not about their need, and it’s not about you understanding their decision process: it’s about leading them through the nuts and bolts of all aspects of the decision to give them an ‘outsider’s eye’ and help them determine their best route to success. They need to come up with the answers to many, many internal issues before they’ll make any decision to change.

Here's why buyers buy:
* When buyers need to resolve a business problem they can't fix themselves;
* When buyer's familiar resources cannot fix their Identified Problem;
* When the entire  range of integrated people, policy, rules and relationship issues that created the Identified Problem has a way to change without major disruption;
* When buyers know how to get the agreement from everyone that counts;
* When there is an Identified Problem that is causing more trouble NOT being fixed than the trouble that would occur BECAUSE OF the fix.

And if they don't know how to do these things, they will do nothing. And the
time it takes buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the
sales cycle. It's got nothing to do with your product.

Placing product is the last thing a seller should/can do. Why a seller would think that the buyer’s first order of business is to make a purchase is confusing to me. Imagine finding out that you’re going to have a baby and the next day trading your car in and purchasing a mini-van at the car dealership down the block. No discussion with your spouse? No research? No discussion of options or priorities? No comparison of styles or price ranges or having two cars or taking your spouse on an information-gathering day? No visit to the dealership that sold you the car you’ve loved for the past 2 years?

Of course you wouldn’t do that. Neither would your client.


Systems don’t like change. All new decisions (to buy, to choose, to adopt a new product) include change. Buyers will take the easiest root toward their problem resolution. If they can get away with buying nothing at all, that will be their choice. One of the main issues buyers have to contend with is whether or not they will do anything different at all.

The main point to any decision is the way it will affect the system that will maintain it. Will a new product or service disrupt the status quo? Is that acceptable? How will the system manage the disruption? How much of a mess does the disruption cause, and what can be managed up front to mitigate this? And how will the decision makers know all this before they make the decision in order to diminish the consequences.

There are several routes to the necessary decision. But the first path followed is always, always to see if known resources can fix the problem, as known resources reduce the moving parts and maintain homeostasis within the system.

Until/unless a buyer can be sure that their familiar resources can’t fix their Identified Problem they will not consider using an unknown resource .

When sellers spend their time pitching, gathering data, and, yes, even understanding the buying process of the buyer, they are overlooking the fundamental fact that buyers are NOT seeking to buy anything, merely to resolve a (business) problem; and they will choose the most efficacious way to do that.

So the first decision buyers must make is: can the Identified Problem be resolved by using their existing supplier, their in-house team, or by doing whatever they did last time. The very last solution they will choose is whether or not to use a new product or vendor.

Buying Facilitation manages the sequence of systems-based action items that buyers must undertake before they will make a purchase. It leads them through their entire decision making process (their OWN decision making process) on route to aligning all internal elements that need to be included. A seller can’t understand this, but can use their relationship with the buyer as a model of true vendor service to lead them through the decision elements. And Buying Facilitation provides the model and questioning sequence to lead them through their process without bias.

If you really want someone to buy, help them by being the other set of eyes and ears that can lead them through the systems of people, politics, timing, budgeting, rules, initiatives, which they need to reconfigure. But not with a product purchase bias: with a decision support bias.

What needs to happen differently for sellers to be willing to adopt a new skill set that put them in a Neutral Navigator position of being a true leader, far different from a product pusher? It’s not about the seller; it’s about the buyer. Truly.

Would you rather sell? Or have someone buy?


Several articles are coming out soon discussing Buying Facilitation. See: An interview with Sharon Drew entitled "Buying Facilitation: Sharon Drew Morgen's New Paradigm" An article by Sharon Drew entitled "Price: How to Differentiate Your Product When It's Priced Higher Than Market Equivalents"

In Selling Power ezine,  see the power point presentation of Buying Facilitation with Sharon Drew providing audio content.


Sharon Drew will be speaking and training in several European cities in
September, for those of you from Europe. These include:

* September 20, 21: Athens, Greece. Sales Management Forum. Presenting pre-conference (9/20) and keynote (9/21).

* September 24: Vienna, Austria. B.T.C. – Branding, Coaching, Training, as part of their Leading Women Thinkers in Business series. SALES FAIL_by Sharon Drew Morgen.pdf

* September 26-28: Stockholm, Sweden. 3-day The Buying Facilitation Method® training program in conjunction with XLNT!.


Dr Jean Norris, from NortonNorris Inc will be running a public Buying Facilitation/Facilitating Buying Decisions training program for people in Higher Education Enrollment, in October, 2007, in Chicago. Stay tuned to her site to see the venue.

David Hanlon, of The Right Mind International Pty Ltd, will be running a public Facilitating Buying Decisions program in November in Brisbane, Australia. Sharon Drew will be teaching a Buying Facilitation public program that same week as a part of his offering. Check for schedule closer to the time:

As always, we are here to serve you.

Copyright 2007 by Sharon Drew Morgen. All rights reserved