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Trying to make a difference in a field that enjoys failure

Submitted by on Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Years ago, when the marketing automation field began publicizing that it would ‘follow the buy cycle’ and ‘place data exactly where it should be placed in the buyer’s decision path’, I knew that would be impossible, using the sales model. As a solution placement device, sales merely manages the last 10% of the buyer’s journey and has no capacity to enter earlier.

For the past 23 years (but who is counting) I have been offering sales folks the means to enter the buying path at the start of the buying decision journey – beginning with one person’s idea, and well before the entire Buying Decision Team is formed. I know every single step that a buyer and the team go through, and when my clients use Buying Facilitation®, they help them efficiently navigate through their own behind-the-scenes processes. But the marketing automation field is entering too late in the buying decision to make a difference, and is gathering insufficient data to help the buyer buy.

Once I realized how the marketing automation field was directing their marketing promises, I called all of the marketing automation firms and suggested that if they really wanted to enter the path earlier, we could partner. But I was met with controlled derision: they were right and I was wrong. So simple in their eyes: Gather data on contact sheets, and then figure out who is a buyer. Right.

Now, with clients running around screaming about their paucity of success: they are not delivering on their promises. They are not closing business effectively, not lead scoring accurately, not qualifying properly, and are not following the buy cycle at the right place with the right data. Of course they’re not.  They are entering far too late.

But now they’ve got a problem. How can they fulfill their (false) promises? They have spent 3+ years, bazillions of bucks, and political capitol with clients, and how can they admit defeat and add something new?

For me, it’s so frustrating watching the mess going on. Folks complaining. Other companies growing up quickly attempting to fill in the gaps – but all still focusing on the last 10% of the buying path.

It’s technology, for goodness sakes!!! They can add whatever they want, start wherever they want, collect whatever they program in! Why are all of the egos showing up – especially in the face of  proven failure! And I LOVE the way they reconfigure the numbers so it appears they are being successful.

But when you ask them: where, precisely, is the Lead in the buying decision path? What part of the Buying Decision Team do they make up – and how many of the full Buying Decision Team is on board? Of all of the folks who will touch the solution and need to add input to the final solution, who is involved? Who needs to be but isn’t? How will all of the change management issues be addressed pre purchase?

And my favorite: how are you scoring your leads? The answer to that one: it’s subjective, and, um, well, um, we really don’t think we’ve got it right.

I know what buyers need to do before they buy.  It’s so painful watching the mess they are making. I’ve got the golden egg, I’m open to finding new ways to partner and collaborate, I’m trying to make a difference – but the field is truly committed to failure and has been for decades.

Makes me want to get out of the field and find folks who truly seek success. Makes me question why I’ve spent so much of my life trying to make a difference in a field that just wants to fail.

sd

Sharon Drew is a featured speaker at the Search Insider Summit – May 4 – 7 , 2011

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