Buying Facilitation® and Sales: the dynamic duo
Buying Facilitation® is a great model for helping buyers navigate their behind-the-scenes political and relationship issues that must achieve buy-in before they get consensus to purchase a solution – you know, that mysterious stuff buyers go through privately while we sit and wait for them to buy.
By using both two models consecutively, selling and buying becomes a very different experience than the one we are accustomed to: the timing is different, the skills are different, the outcomes are different, the relationship is different and the competitive and money factors fade away.
Indeed, sellers can enter the buying environment much, much earlier, be a coach as buyers gather the appropriate players and handle their buy-in issues, and lead them through all of the behind-the-scenes decisions they must make by being a part of the Buying Decision team – not as a seller, but as a management consultant and change agent dedicated to buyers achieving excellence. They have to do this stuff anyway: might as well be with you. You sit and wait while they do it anyway.
THE BUYER’S DECISION JOURNEY FIRST, THEN PROBLEM RESOLUTION SECOND
By beginning the buyer/seller relationship with a different agenda and skill set as a neutral navigator and using unbiased, systems-based Facilitative Questions to help buyers think through their range of relationship/political issues (like the department heads that need to get along, or the pesky tech team who try to take over the initiative, or the boss that wants to use her favored vendor) you can lead buyers through the non-problem-based, confusing stuff they need address to help them chart a course through their pre-purchase decision issues.
And then, once they determine how and why and if and when they can resolve their problem with minimum disruption, know who will be involved, and the criteria they all need to meet to move forward with any change, then you can start the process of understanding the specifics of their problem and know the right way to introduce your solution. First, neutral, unbiased change agent/coach. Second, gather data about full spectrum of need, and then place solution.
Let me break that down for you:
Step one: Make contact as a change agent. Lead a prospect through the discovery of where they are, what excellence would look like to them in the area your solution can resolve, and if there is a difference.
Step two: help the prospect discover all of the internal factors (many unknown, many historic, and all that they have to manage before considering doing anything different) that keep them where they are.
Step three: by using the right Facilitative Questions (based on helping prospect discover and manage their unconscious criteria), be placed on the Buying Decision Team to continue leading the buyer through all of the off-line, private decision issues they’ll need to address so they can garner buy-in.
Step four: continue to help prospects
- collect the right people,
- recognize their internal systems issues that are maintaining the status quo,
- help them re-organize,
- plot out the steps for adopting a solution that the whole Buying Decision Team would buy-in to,
- recognize any fall-out before they can even consider the right solution.
Step five: gather the appropriate data to see how your solution would fit and serve.
Step six: discuss your solution in detail, using the buyer’s buying criteria as they have discovered it, and introduced in a way that will teach the buyer how to manage the internal politics that you and the Buying Decision Team have just worked through.
In general the steps of sales today start with my Step Five (except when using the Internet as a lead generator, and then many companies start with Step Six, mistakenly assuming once the buyer makes contact they already know your solution fits and they are ready to buy). But make no mistake: buyers need to do the first steps anyway – with you or without you. It is here that you lose your sale.
How many times have you had the exact right solution and the buyer doesn’t buy? It’s not because your solution doesn’t fit or because they don’t like you or your price: it’s because they couldn’t get buy-in to do something different, or the internal politics demanded a different solution, or the status quo prevailed because they didn’t know how to keep their system in tact and determined that the risk and cost would be lower to do nothing.
You lose sales because buyers have a tough time navigating their internal decision issues, and sales doesn’t offer a model to help them do that.
Remember: the time it takes buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle – answers that most likely have absolutely nothing to do with your solution or their need, and everything to do with internal politics, relationships, and the unknown.
Buying Facilitation® is not sales. It’s a decision facilitation model that leads buyers through all of the internal navigation issues they must resolve privately and off-line before they get agreement to do anything different. Using sales, there are no skills to start where BF begins (As my book Dirty Little Secrets says over and over, don’t compare this to sales.) but you lose sales, lose time, lose money because you don’t.
Buyers are going to do this with you, or without you. And they do it very haltingly and inefficiently. Learn this model, add it to the front end of what you are doing now, and close more sales quicker – a lot more sales, a lot quicker.
Do you want to sell? or have someone buy? They are two different activities, and you need skills to support both.