Morgen Facilitations, Inc.


For the past seven years, I’ve been writing monthly newsletters – essays, really - about Buying Facilitation. I’ve written them for free, and used them to both teach people how to think about, and recognize, the need for a new sales model, as well as a way to make my model and services understandable and available to the visionaries who seek something beyond conventional sales.

I suspect I have been less than successful at both efforts.

But let me begin at the beginning.


As a sales person – a million dollar producer, I might add – I was always frustrated by the sales model. My products (stocks, training, insurance, outplacement services) were good, as was the branding; my approach was professional, caring, and charming; my clients were smart and their needs were obvious to us both.

Yet only a relatively small percentage of them closed, and I was constantly on the run trying to get folks to respond to my calls, meet them to make presentations and deliver proposals, or find out who the decision makers were and configure my pitches accordingly. I even played squash in the days when squash was a ‘bonding experience’ in the same way golf is now (squash was easier on women who don’t like making a spectacle of great legs).

As a rational experience, it made no sense at all. So I did what all sellers do: studied how to get in the door, overcome objections, close the deal, and manage price objections.

It wasn’t until I became an entrepreneur myself did I realize the problem.

It wasn’t until I was a buyer did I realize how much bigger than product placement or needs assessment the job of sales needed to be. And it wasn’t until I discovered what my challenges were as a manager that I understood why buyers seemingly, no matter what sales model I used, seemed, um, stupid.


I started up my company under very unique circumstances: my head techie happened to be my husband (my company needed a techie, and he was the best), I was living in an unfamiliar country (London), a difficult economy (a recession during the Thatcher years), and the money-men lived in NY and weren’t involved with the daily operations. It was a manageable mess.

Managing the mess was fun and a challenge: in order for me to make any changes – either buy a product to resolve a problem, hire new people, lease new property, change vendors, even change offices - I had to manage different parts of my mess in a continual balancing act: egos and personalities, politics and relationships, time/space, money, new staff, and new initiatives. And if I got it wrong, or made an error, or chose the wrong vendor, or or or, there were consequences that seemed to effect everything else somehow. Decisions that I could have made so simply on my own became, well, interesting.

Net, net, I was part of a very unique, idiosyncratic environment (I call it a ‘system’) that had to be amended in some way before I could make any sort of change. Any area that needed resolution – I’ll call it an Identified Problem - was merely a subset of the entire system (much like the tip of the iceberg being a subset of the iceberg) and the system kept the Identified Problem in place.

As an entrepreneur, when I first recognized the need to make a purchase, I didn’t even know what I had to manage because I was initially unfamiliar with the way the new X would affect me. I had to make sure that whatever would touch the new solution (and that seemed to be a moveable feast! Things would ‘touch’ the new solution in ways that weren’t initially obvious) would buy-in to working with something brought in from the outside. And the time it took me to come up with my own answers was the length of my buying cycle.

As I buyer, I needed to manage internal, political issues before I could make a buying decision and fix any Identified Problem. Because of the delays, the conversations I had to wait to have, the policies that were shifting, and the partnership issues I had to manage, I ended up creating the same issues for my prospective vendors as my prospects had created for me: objections, delays, sketchy data, price issues.

But I couldn’t help it: I lived within a very idiosyncratic environment that needed great care and respect to handle; my seeming problems couldn’t be resolved by ‘fixing’ the Identified Problem, as the Identified Problem was invariably just a subset of the larger problems that had to be managed. And someone from outside couldn't help. I had to continually weigh personalities and profits, present realities with future plans, promises against initiatives.

Indeed, I watched with empathy as sellers attempted to sell into my seeming ‘pain’, and recognized the frustration that I had felt in similar circumstances: buyer has problem and immediate need/seller has solution. What’s the problem?


I now finally understood the problem I had had with sales: as an entrepreneur I had to figure out each unique element I’d have to manage before I could make a buying decision and neither the problem nor the solution was the issue. All of a sudden it made sense, and now the seeming stupidity of buyers dragging their heels around making an ‘obvious’ decision was no longer stupid.

As a sales person, I hadn’t appreciated my status as an outsider: no matter how friendly and smart I was, or how relevant my product, I would always be an outsider to the buyer’s system, and not privy to all the necessary decisions that would have to be made in order for my product to fit comfortably into/with all of the moving parts. For some reason, I thought that THE PROBLEM was the need I had to help resolve; I didn’t realize that the issues that created it needed to be managed in some way before the buyer could go about resolving it, and that THE PROBLEM was only one small aspect of a much larger issue.

Of course it makes rational sense discussing it here. But as a sales person, I didn’t fully comprehend that no matter how hard I tried, or how relevant my product was to the buyer’s need, or how hard I tried to understand the buyer, I’d never really be able to put myself fully into their shoes: there was just no reliable way to get fully ‘in’. There was just too much mystery within a ‘closed system’ of people and policies and relationships for an outsider to ever really comprehend.

As a simple analogy, think of chairs for a moment. Let’s say I sell chairs. You come by because you need 2 chairs to accommodate a long visit from your son and daughter-in-law that you just found out about. We talk, sit on, and price, chairs. We make sure that the chairs you choose would fit with your décor. Then you go home to ‘think about it’ with your spouse. Will your dining room actually have room for 2 more people? The chairs you just liked were kinda large. You’ll have to measure. Maybe you can move the credenza. Or, maybe you should call the kids and see if they might end up staying more than 3 months; then you’d make the porch into a dining room. You’ve been thinking about that for a while now.


Get my point? We’re so busy selling chairs – needs, price, function, and gathering data about THE PROBLEM - that we don't realize how the buyer’s system of rules and roles and relationships need to be managed before they can even really hear about the chairs. And we end up with time delays, objections, issues, issues, issues – all because the buyer hadn’t identified yet, nor reached collaborative agreement around, all of the other connected issues that would touch their solution.

Obviously buyers can do nothing until they can figure it all out.

Sales taught me to think that with a good product, a good price point, an agreed-upon need, a good relationship, knowledge of the decision team, and a real need that my product could solve, I was good to go.

Even now, after thousands of years of using basically the same model of placing product, we’re still using the same thinking – and getting, expecting, planning for, and doing work-arounds for - the same limited results.

Until I was literally ‘in the buyer’s shoes’, I didn’t realize that knowing the need, product, decision approach, or players, wasn’t enough: it never occurred to me that the need and product/solution were only the final aspects of the myriad of internal decisions that needed to be made before action could be taken. There was a whole lotta iceberg under the water.




As many of you have already figured out, Buying Facilitation is a tool that can be used in any collaborative decision making context. As a result, we are beginning to move the model into coaching, negotiating, partnering, change, and all areas that include collaborative decision making as a highly-valued result.

Using the Decision Facilitation Method, we have begun a new service to help companies collaborate with their business partners.

Usually, the biggest problem with Change, as with buying decisions, is the collaboration necessary between all of the different decision making elements. For example:

  • How will the Decision Team collaborate to agree on their choice criteria in order to select the best vendor or project or new hire?
  • How can a company bring in new software and ensure that the Users, Managers, Tech team, and Vendors are collaborating throughout the implementation to assure buy-in and use?
  • What needs to happen for a new initiative to be rolled-out and implemented in a way that there is minimum fallout (in re people, policies, and relationships) and maximum creativity throughout the life of the initiative?
  • How can people who are part of a change initiative have the tools to ensure they stay connected and supportive?

We have begun a partnership with a European tech company (XLNT!) in Stockholm, and a US change management company (details being finalized), to help you facilitate decision making throughout any change initiatives. In this way, we can make sure that your people and your teams are continually collaborating and reaching agreement to ensure maximum effectiveness with decisions, communication, tasks, and creativity.

Contact us at:


Lately, we’ve had many contacts from folks wanting to learn the Method but who don’t have time for training. Sharon Drew is now offering phone coaching for individuals and teams who want to learn Buying Facilitation. Learning the Method takes time and practice and involves new skills not taught in sales, such as: learning to listen for systems, formulating Facilitative Questions, recognizing where buyers need to go to manage internal decisions. Working with the Ebook, and weekly homework that might include audio taping calls, Sharon Drew can help you move throught the learning process.

Contact us to set up a 15 minute interview with Sharon Drew to discuss if coaching will work for you and your team.


If you and your team are having vendor issues that are causing your project to be achieving less than projected results (around communications, decisions, or collaboration), contact us. Many vendor issues are related to collaboration break-downs and can be resolved through systems interventions. Contact us and let’s set up a conversation to see if we can help.


By popular demand, Sharon Drew will be holding another public training for the 3-day Buying Facilitation Method program in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 3-5. ( At this time, our Swedish partner Ted Elvhage will run a 2-day Facilitating Buying Decisions program in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 6-7 (

Sharon Drew will also be running a public 3-day Buying Facilitation Method program in Vienna, Austria, in January 2008.

As always, we are here to serve you.

all content copyright © morgen facilitations, inc. 2009