Time Magazine made me Person of the Year.
It made you Person of the Year too.

Now that we are all famous, what happens when we all have access and input to the same data? How do we find our target markets? And how does marketing change given our murky demographics?

I have answers, and I’ll begin by being a bit provocative: information doesn’t teach someone how to make a decision. Indeed, I believe that ‘information’ is useful only when people have already decided they are actively seeking a new solution. It’s certainly useless as a means to convince someone to do something they weren’t going to do, don’t believe in, don’t understand, or who have people and policy hurdles that created a status quo that needs collaborative decisions and systems change to move forward.

Yet the entire field of marketing is based on pushing, placing, pitching product information into a suitable demographic in the hopes that people will be intrigued enough to want to make a purchase as a result.

Let’s face it: we have no idea – no idea – who is actually buying, or whether there are substantial numbers of purchasers outside of our demographic that we aren’t reaching. Indeed, at the end of the day, we end up throwing the spaghetti against the wall hoping that some of it will stick. It’s all a guess.

But it doesn’t need to be that way.


Think about this for a moment. You see ads all the time. How many do you pay attention to? What is it about one ad vs. another that makes you attend to it? How many cause you to actually make a purchase? Which ads do you ignore?

I bet that the only ads that cause you to take action are those for products that you either have active interest in - say, if you were a tech geek who loves new products - or for products you are seeking to buy. You would not be influenced by an ad for something that you had no interest in buying – like an investment in a horse stable, or an ad for something that went against your values (cigarettes possibly).

And, given the availability of data on the internet, did you actually need those ads in that magazine to cinch the deal for you? Could you not go onto Google and find whatever data you need to find?

Information does not teach buyers how to make buying decisions until they are already at the point in their decision making that they need to know details. If a couple is just beginning to consider moving, they’re not ready to choose a real estate agent, or a builder, until they have determined where to move, when to move, how to finance, what school districts will be best, etc. Knowing that one agent, or builder, over another would benefit them is moot until the baseline decisions have been made. Before that there is no container to hold the data. And no problem exists in isolation.

We keep throwing data at a demographic that has the greatest likelihood of interest but have no way to know if we are making a sale.


Because we haven’t known how to actually get into our buyer’s heads from their own personal viewpoint we have had no other way to position product other than to push data. Because of this, we’ve spent gazillions of dollars doing market research, demographic study, focus groups, graphic design, all in the hopes of finding, influencing, and stimulating those most likely to buy. Yet, at the end of the day, we only sell to one decision at a time. And ultimately have no way of knowing who this person will be or how they make their decision. So we shove and push and position because we don’t know any other way in.

Imagine if you could influence a decision at the specific point that the decision was being made? Imagine if you had a way into that part of the buyer’s brain that was necessary to engage before they decided? With some of the neuromarketing and behavior science research available now, we seem to believe we know how to help influence a buyer’s brain through product placement, presentation information, vocabulary usage, and timing – all push.

For example, in Neuromarketing: is there a ‘buy button inside the brain? Patrick Renvoise and Christopher Marin talk about the breakdown and influencing of the brain’s decision center, using specific vocabulary and images that are in alignment with how the buyer’s brain wants to buy. But this is a push method, meant for those who have already gone far down the decision making route.

Paco Underhill in Why We Buy: the science of shopping breaks down a lot of the myths in retail purchasing and tells us that people who come into a store move to the right first, and women like to touch their purchases and need to be made comfortable. But I can be made really comfortable and still not spend $500 on a pair of jeans. Or $300. (Ok. Once I spent $200, but just once.) It goes against my values.

Our marketing efforts seek to find the most efficient ways to produce product data capable of influencing decisions – but it does this from the outside in. We do enhance purchasing, but mainly for those people who were already in the market – and ready - to make a purchase. What about the rest – the larger percentage of people who need a product and who don’t know it, or who aren’t ready to buy, or haven’t started the process of making a change yet.

We can make a difference here as well, but not with marketing strategies that exist now. We must move into the hidden, unique, and idiosyncratic criteria that people actually use to make their, often unconscious, decisions. We must help the buyer decide from the inside. And, we’ve not known how to get there.

At any point in the buyer’s buying cycle – even before they are aware of a need - we can actually influence the unique decision sequence that buyers use. We can do this by teaching buyers how to open their consideration to new possibilities that match the values and criteria, rules and relationships, that got them to their current situation.

As an example, let’s say you saw a gorgeous ad for a high-end car. Nice picture, shiny gadgets. Nice setting, great lighting. Next page.


But what if the ad also had a Facilitative Question. What if it also said: How will you know when it’s time to purchase a luxury car? This is not an information gathering question that pulls data from decisions already made; it’s one that matches the buyer’s current criteria and expands possibilities. It also assumes there are several layers of decisions that must be made before the actual ‘event’ of a purchase occurs.

Think about that question for a moment. Let’s take it apart.

  1. HOW WILL YOU KNOW: Where does that question go in your brain? It should have you think about time, about what happens for you when something new is being considered, about what you will hear or see. It will put you on the alert for anything coming through your sensory field – past, present, and future – that would lead to a consideration about a high-end car. It will sort for how you’ve done this before now, and what you will most probably see if something new comes across your field.
  2. WHEN IT’S TIME: To answer this you must think about who you are now, who you want to be, how you see – and will – see yourself in relation to what you drive. You have to consider your future income, your family members (can’t buy a two-seater with 3 kids). You have to see yourself moving from current decisions to future ones.
  3. TO PURCHASE: So, thinking about it isn’t good enough. Now that you know how to think about who you are, how you see yourself, and when you might make a move to show yourself and others that you are, say, successful, or rich, or whatever drives you in 1 and 2, now you have to think about getting the money. When will you have it? What would you need to do to manage the spouse? The financials? How will you know that you would actually spend this type of money? This particular piece of the facilitative question also is a gentle persuasion technique, with a ‘demand’ to purchase.
  4. A LUXURY CAR: Not just any car. But an expensive one. One that will smell differently from the car you’ve been driving for 6 years. One that will respond to your self evaluation. One that will say you ‘made it’.

Does this happen when you see the ad with just the information about the car? Does your brain engage in this way?


At this point in history, when our demographics are merging, when everyone, and no one, is a decision maker, when we are overwhelmed by incoming data all day long, it’s time to find new ways to help our buyers make the decisions they need to make to purchase our products. At the moment, marketing continues to focus on a problem as if it were an isolated event, push a well-positioned piece of data at them, and assume it will ‘work’. But our buyer’s decisions are a lot more complex and our ads aren’t working.

What needs to happen to help buyers manage the relevant internal, unique decisions necessary before a purchasing decision can be made – and what are we willing to do differently to make that happen?

The big question is: Do you want to sell? Or have someone buy?


We seek training companies desiring a servant-leader, values-based approach to supporting buying decisions, to license with us in non-competitive licensee arrangements.

Until now, Sharon Drew has delivered all Buying Facilitation training. In 2005, she designed a 2-day Prospecting/Qualifying program that employs the Facilitative Questions, and systems thinking, of Buying Facilitation into a mainstream program that is easy to administer and learn. She has been licensing this program to training companies outside of the US for the past year.

Currently, there are Licensing Partners in Mexico City, Lisbon, Brussels, Budapest, Stockholm, and Melbourne. By year end, we will also have Partners in India, Egypt, Greece, UK, and, fingers, crossed, China. Naturally, we would like Buying Facilitation to be available in the US.

We now are actively seeking Licensing Partners to deliver Buying Facilitation and decision facilitation-based training programs in the States. To this end, Sharon Drew will teach a licensing program in Austin, TX in May 2007. The program is 7 days long and includes the Buying Facilitation Method, the Facilitating Buying Decisions program and a Train the Trainer licensing segment for the Prospecting course. While any portion of the program can be taken independently, trainers must take the full 7 day program to get a license to train the Prospecing and Qualifying program. In the near future, an additional licensing program will be run for those wanting additional training with Sharon Drew and wish to license the Buying Facilitation course also.

For those outside the States, Sharon Drew will be running a Licensing Program in New Delhi, India starting February 14th. Sharon Drew is partnering with the American Higher Education Group who will be licensing trainers to train the Buying Facilitation approach throughout India.

We are committing ourselves to designing more Buying Facilitation-based programs to ensure that the Method is available world-wide, in several different programs, priced and targeted to specific industries and cultures. We believe it is time in our history, given product differentiation issues and time-efficient closing cycle problems, that supporting buying decisions in a servant-leader, collaborative, decisioning model, is an idea whose time has come. To learn more about Buying Faciltation and how the collaborative decision-making model works, and see how it could help your business go to www. and read 2 free chapters of Sharon Drew’s most recent ebook: Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions.

If you would like to add new content to your course offerings, have clients who seek new, revolutionary material, and to work with an international team of people who seek to push the envelop, work with Sharon Drew in designing programs and technology that will give your client base cutting edge skills, please join us in May for this training.

Copyright 2007 by Sharon Drew Morgen. All rights reserved.