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Buying Decisions

Submitted by on Friday, 14 October 2005

For years I’ve been saying that sales is focused on the wrong element of the buy/sell process, that instead of focusing on the product end, to focus on the buying end. After all, you can’t make a sale without a buyer, and buyers buy only when they discover their own answers.
The missing piece for sellers has been that they haven’t been able to effect the buyer’s buying environment, even thought they pitch and present with great professionalism, intent, and skill. Indeed, the buyer’s buying environment is filled with all of those pesky things that sellers can’t see, like people’s relationships and internal politics, or how initiatives create rules and roles, or how the company history creates unique stories and beliefs that people carry into their daily activities.


I have developed a Buying Facilitation method that is a way through the miasma of buying decisions necessary before a purchase gets made. All buyers do it anyway – it’s just never been coded before now. And I teach the sellers how to work with the model in an effort to truly serve buyers through their decisions.
Over the years, I’ve been told my model is – oh.. let’s see if i can remember some of the words – strange, weird, crazy, ‘not sales’, naive, silly…. that about does it. Yet I’ve trained over 13,000 sellers. Visionary sales directors have discovered my work (mostly through my book Selling with Integrity), and are now using the model in some of the most prestigeous companies in the world.
That said, my ideas are now becoming the new ‘buzz words’ of sales. Words like Buying Decisions, Buying Criteria, Buying Environment, Buying Patterns. Music to my ears! Finally! The world is understanding what I’m doing and I won’t have to be buried as that eccentric woman who tried to change the whole field of sales singlehandedly.
But, alas, sellers are taking the ideas and shoving them into the old sales thinking. They are using the Buying Decision thinking and trying to get the decisions made through sellers using the model as a new push strategy. Can’t they get it through their heads that the best they can do with it is to serve the buyer and help him/her make his/her own decision?
Why are we, as sellers, so arrogant to think that we can effect change in our prospect’s environment just because we have a great product, or that our product just might (at least the 7% of the time we close) solve their problem? Why don’t we realize that buyers don’t want our product, they just want to solve a business problem? Why don’t we understand that change can only happen when those inside of the change environment elect to manage their internal criteria so change can happen?
Now my prayer is that in my lifetime – and I’m getting old, folks, I’m getting old – sellers will realize that their job is to serve buyers by supporting the decision making process, to guide buyers through all of those unique, hidden, an idiosyncratice systems decisions they need to make that the seller can’t see or even understand. Not at a content level or a problem-solving level, but at a decision-systems level. It’s a whole new vocabulary and job.
We need to change the entire job of sales, folks. Get off of the product pitch, trusted advisor, relationship sales stuff: buyers don’t need you to sell them a product or be the ones to understand their needs. They need you to truly lead them through all of the internal system issues they need to recognize, align, and manage before they can do anything different. They need you to offer them leverage, a viewpoint, and a path through their internal craziness which caused (and maintain) their problem to begin with. Stop with the selling. Stop trying to be ‘nice’ so they’ll like you – everyone else is doing the same thing. Support their buying efforts. They are vastly different from anything you’ve done until now.
That way I can die knowing I’ve accomplished something in this lifetime.