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Fighting for Failure: why modern sales practices are illogical

Submitted by on Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Logic would tell us that our modern – post Dale Carnegie – sales processes are failing. Given the facts, there is no logical reason to believe that a purchase will follow from our selling behaviors. We close at such a miserably low rate that it’s quite stunning no one even consider that  maybe, just maybe, something should be done about it.

As we continue to seek better ways to do the same things that failed before ( look at the numbers below, all industry numbers or from averages of my global clients) I think our industry might be facing extinction.

We continue to ‘understand’ more and ‘push’ harder, follow footprints and nuture. But our close rates remain well below 10% because we are focusing on the wrong end of the buying decision journey.  Can you imagine any other industry where a lower-than-10% success rate is deemed ‘success’? Would you go on a plane with that success rate? Or visit a doc?

THE HARD REALITY

  • We close .6758% of our leads if we begin the dialogue by seeking an appointment.
  • We close 17% of the prospects we get appointments with – but we lose over 90% of the full spectrum of prospects by seeking appointments as our first outcome.
  • When using conventional (i.e. non marketing automation) sales, we close 7% and have closed this number consistently for decades, regardless of the sales model.
  • We spend 90% of our time scoring/nurturing leads/names – 93% of whom won’t buy using conventional sales approaches; 25% of  the total would buy if they were facilitated earlier in their buying journey.
  • We close 10% of our proposals, wasting 90% of our time.
  • We waste 85% of our time attempting to present to prospects who have claimed ‘interest’ but are nowhere near ready to buy.
  • 80% of our prospects will buy a solution similar to ours within 2 years of speaking with us – but not from us because they haven’t figured out how to buy/change and get the appropriate buy-in.

The problems causing all of the above statistics are all based on where, how, and why, we enter the buyer’s world. We are

  1. entering at the back end of the buying journey,
  2. treating ‘needs’ as if they were isolated events rather than part of a functioning system,
  3. ignoring the behind-the-scenes, political and relationship issues buyers must address before they can buy,
  4. acting as if they have already completed their change management piece and are merely choosing the best solution,
  5. entering too early with a solution when it takes time for the entire Buying Decision Team to form is the length of the sales cycle; no purchase will happen until all of their input is included in a solution choice.

With a focus on needs assessment and solution placement, we sit helplessly while our buyers are facing confusion along the route of their ever-more-complex buying journeys. With marketing automation keeping us out of the loop until late in the buy cycle, we don’t have the personal ability to influence buying behavior as we once did.

And we have little capability to qualify – regardless of the selling model used. We’re kinda assuming that because it LOOKS like it might be a lead, that it IS a lead. But it’s merely a name. In fact, sales is becoming transactional.

FOCUS ON INFLUENCING THE BUYING JOURNEY, NOT MAKING THE SALE

Buying Facilitation™ can dramatically shift these numbers because we enter differently and at a far earlier place, use different skills, have different goals and outcomes, and get very very different responses and results.

Someone recently asked me why the sales community fights with me, when all that’s necessary is adding a front end to what is already being done. My answer: I have no idea.

Stop fighting me. Unless you love the results your getting and aren’t wasting more than, oh, 15% of your time on deals that won’t close, or don’t mind losing prospects that could become buyers if you managed the entire buying decision journey from the start.

If you were 100 pounds overweight, would you fight a doc that tells you you need to lose weight? You can see that problem and at least believe that losing weight would be a great idea. But when I give you the numbers in the selling industry, you fight and tell me that you want to continue failing. You tell me that those numbers don’t apply to you. Or YOU do it so much better, but your teammates don’t. Or you start counting from your presentation.

WHY CARE ABOUT THE BUYING DECISION JOURNEY?

Why does helping the buying decision journey give you different numbers?

  • Because the time it takes the buyer to recognize and manage all of the internal people/policy issues that will shift as a result of a purchase is the length of the buy cycle.
  • Because until all of the Buying Decision Team members are on board they don’t even know the full fact pattern of their need.
  • Because they will say ‘no’ to an appointment until they have a handle on the internal change management issues and the folks who need to be involved.
  • Because unless you are able to use your first call to help prospects set up their Buying Decision Team, you will continue to have 3 or 4 meetings over 6 months rather than get an appointment with the full Buying Decision Team on the first – and possibly only – meeting.
  • Because you are pitching, presenting, and proposing the wrong information – or information they do not know they need yet, or information that has not-enough people to understand at an early place in the decision cycle.

So you’ll close much, much quicker if you enter as a decision facilitator. You will find buyers who didn’t think they were ready and help them get ready quickly (and no, it’s not solution-focused). You will find prospects who didn’t know they were prospects, and get rid of those who really aren’t ever going to be buyers… on the first call. You will make the right appointment with the right people and the right folks will show up.

No more time wasting. No more sequenced appointments as the whole team gets on board. No more following bad leads. No more waiting for sales to close, with an inability to forecast.

That’s why you should care about the buying decision journey. That’s why you should add Buying Facilitation™ to the front end of what you are doing now. Otherwise, marketing automation is going to take over your job. And maybe then you’ll end up on the buy side with  your new job, and understand what I’ve been talking about all these years.

Just saying.

sd

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