I’ve always had a nagging question re sales, why do sales people (new business folk) close so few deals. Sharon Drew Morgen developer of Buying Facilitation ® explained that I (like everyone else, phew!) have been focusing on selling their solution rather than helping buyers buy.
Prospects have lots of internal behind the scene issues they have to navigate and until they are able to do this they will not change the way things are. Here’s how I see my new skill….imagine a Fictional Wife (FW) has an early morning conversation with Fictional Husband (FH). You know the couple, 2 children, work hard and would like to move onwards and upwards.
(FW): “I think we should consider moving house. ”
(FH): “I agree.”
(FW): “Let’s do it.”
Times passes, and the husband returns from work later that day and says, “I bought us a new house today.” How do you think the Fictional Wife would have reacted or what would she have said?
This is how sales people tend to think. You have a problem I have ‘the’ solution.
The problem is until they had agreed criteria together, they weren’t actually buyers. Yes, they may know the basic spec, but they don’t know how to figure out the behind the scenes stuff that has to be worked out before they are able to change. That house sales is not going through, fictional or not, I bet you.
So what murky world does this couple live in? Maybe they need to figure out where the house should be in relation to the eldest and the youngest child’s school.
How accessible does it need to be for her to drive to work?
How near has it got to be to the train station for his?
Is it going to be closer to his Mum’s or hers?
How would they know if it was preferable to move in Summer or Autumn?
Have they worked out the cost of moving? Is there a budget for moving?
How will they know if friends and family will be around to help them move?
How will they know if their jobs are secure for the next few years?
Will the children want to go to the same clubs or will they have to join new ones?If, so what then?
What do they believe about the economic climate in the coming years?
The list could go on and on and has nothing to do with the features or benefits of the house, yet, or the pain of living where they currently do.
People can’t buy until they have recognised and managed all the unique idiosyncratic shenanigans that buyers must address behind the scenes, the people issues, internal politics, budget, team issues, that maintain the status quo.
This is the length of the sales cycle. The time it takes to decide and work out how they will cope with all the disruption caused by the change. And agree criteria about what can be changed and what can’t and by how much and who gets the short straws and who doesn’t.
So, that is where our prospects go, to figure out how your company fits into their weird world. It has nothing to do with you (as charming as you must be) or your product yet, does it? The criteria that makes them buyers have nothing to do with the product solution.
You can’t sell to someone who can’t buy, it doesn’t mean you can’t talk with them you just can’t sell to them. This is what sales people (new business people) spend most of their time doing by the way. Why don’t we help our prospects manage their internal issues first in a neutral way positioning ourselves as facilitators before we turn into sales people.
The solution must maintain the integrity of their peculiar world (system) else the solution causes more disruption than the status quo. The buyer has the solution first not the seller. Unless the buyer can figure out how to fit you into their world, they will prevaricate, keep thinking, stop taking your calls and most likely do nothing at all, except collect some proposals in their in-trays. Couldn’t we help them figure the quickest route to solving these internal issues?
Could we aid our prospects by helping them navigate their own unique peculiarities so they feel comfortable they can buy and we can then do our happy clappy sales presentation / pitch later on.
How much trust could we build if we stopped pushing product and solution and instead realised the prospect may have to consider many more things before they can even consider you as a solution provider / business partner. And maybe they’d call us back to ask what else they need to consider, before they talk with you about your product.
So you maybe thinking – but this isn’t sales, this is a waste of my time. But consider the advantages of your new role. It isn’t sales….it’s the missing piece of the puzzle, because selling doesn’t cause buying.
Many thanks to Sharon Drew Morgen – who has granted me a licence to train Buying Facilitation ® in the UK. You’re amazing! Wish me luck.