How does sales make our job harder?
One of the ‘dirty little secrets’ in my new book is this: because the model of sales is focused on understanding needs and placing solutions, and doesn’t have the tools to help manage the behind-the-scenes issues that buyers must manage internally before they can purchase anything, we fail far more than we should. And we end up creating ways to stay in the loop when in fact, what’s going on is outside of our control.
As we approach prospects, we end up pushing against their ’system’ that is ‘relatively ok’ (or it would have changed already) and doesn’t wish to be disturbed until it is assured that anything new will not cause permanent disruption – something they must come to terms with themselves and has nothing to do with their need or our solution.
As a result, sales folks have to suffer the indignities of rejection caused by us showing up with the right solution at the wrong time, determined by the way the sales model itself is structured. To manage this rejection, and because we see an obvious match between their ‘need’ and our solution and believe it’s the right time to involve ourselves, we have developed work-arounds to ‘get in’ and get heard, get seen, get liked. We push against the system as we
- send introductory letters to ‘grease the wheel’ for our prospecting calls,
- network to get to know prospects better so they will like us (and buy our solution),
- meet face-t0-face to prove our professionalism (so they will like us and buy our solution),
- learn opening, closing, gatekeeper, objection-handling techniques,
- finely hone our shining personalities and brilliant persuasion techniques,
all because we unaware of the stage buyers are at within the change management issues in their internal buying decisions – and then complain about the rotten results we’re getting.
In reality, if buyers wanted to be different, they would have done something different already! But before they take action now, they must go through internal stuff that we can’t understand or see or even be a part of because we are outsiders. And sales doesn’t give us a GPS system to help buyers manuever through their own trip.
The most curious part for me is why sales folks fight to continue these often-useless activities. As I have been introducing decision facilitation and Buying Facilitation™ into the field for decades I have been hoping the field would say “YiPEE – I can ADD some new skills to what I’ve been doing and BUYERS WILL BUY MORE AND FASTER.” But instead for 20 years folks have fought for the right to do what they’ve always done and get a 90% failure rate.
Why is it such a struggle to want to change when there is such a tiny success ratio? I guess we are so used to the struggle that it has become our nature. We’re doing what our buyers are doing: choosing the status quo rather than change.
I wonder. Sometimes I take responsibility thinking that I haven’t been clear enough with my model – although in my new book I think I finally am – see a review.
Sometimes I think the centuries of sales have just reached a concretized form that will never change.
And yet, over the years, dozens and dozens of companies have hired me, and the field is now finally talking about the ideas I’ve espoused (we now commonly speak of ‘buying decisions’ and ‘decision facilitation’ and ‘buying patterns’ and ‘buying criteria’ – all phrases I coined decades ago) so I know it’s possible and remain ever hopeful.
Our jobs are only difficult because sales focuses on solution placement and leaves buyers to figure out the route through change on their own. We can help – but not with the sales model. I hope my new book Dirty Little Secrets and my Buying Facilitation™ model will help you manage the front end of the buying decision process.
It really, really doesn’t have to be this difficult. Contact my client Peter Casebow and ask him how we brought his sales to a one year, 3 meeting sales cycle, to a 3 call, 3 week close. But they weren’t using sales to do this.
Let’s make it easier. Let’s stop trying to sell, and really support the buyer’s buying.