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Overcoming the Stall: what takes buyers so long to buy?

Submitted by on Tuesday, 24 November 2009

questionMarkAre your sales taking too long to close? Do you know why?

Is it you? Is it your prospect? Is it your product?

And what would you need to do differently in order to close more quickly?

One of the biggest problems I hear sellers complain about is that it takes so long for buyers to finally buy. After all, you have a great product, you are a professional, you understand your prospect’s needs, and spend time on prospects who fit the profile. But for some reasons, too many sales stall. What is going on?

It’s not you, it’s not your product, and it’s not the prospect. The problem is one that is hidden from sales people: buyers live within environments of people, policies, relationships, egos, promises, and initiatives, all of which created (and maintain) the Identified Problem. Before they can choose a solution, they need to make some internal decisions to ensure folks are all in agreement, that systems won’t self-destruct, that old relationships are handled. And the time it takes them to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle. So it’s not about the solution or the need: it’s about how long it takes the buyer to make sure their system will function properly. Because if they bring in a new solution and it causes internal disruption, the cost is too high.

Until now, sales has focused on solving a problem and placing a product, and there hasn’t been a way to get to those hidden decisions necessary before buyers can buy. As a result, buyers have to spend whatever time it takes to figure out whatever they need to figure out to make sure they don’t self-destruct if they bring something new in. And, again, sales does not manage this.

I recently was speaking with someone who took a course from a well known sales training vendor; the program taught how to ‘manage the internal decisions’ by giving good content and providing good service. And, what happens when there is a fight between the tech team and the old vendor? Or when two department heads want to design their own solution and drop out of the Buying Decision Team? The man I was speaking with was stumped.

Sales has no way to ‘go inside’ with the buyer and help manage their decisions. And giving people data before they have figured out the best ways to use it is moot. Indeed, sales comes in at the wrong time, and does not realize that it actually offers no control whatsoever in helping influence the behind-the-scenes decision issues that are off-line to outsiders.

Buying Facilitation™ is a new sales paradigm that gives sellers a new set of tools to help buyers discover all of the decisions they need to make internally before they can make a purchase. It has a different focus than sales, and is a decision support model that sits on the front end of sales as we’ve known it. It requires a new tool box, and asks a different question:

Do you want to sell? Or have someone buy?

sd

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  • Jacob Stoller

    As one who spent 15 years sales in the IT industry, I find your views refreshing. Under the guise of 'focusing on closing business', too many salespeople are working with the wrong compensation plans and the wrong tools. Selling software to businesses is a great example – salespeople focus on the IT department, and not the many user groups whose business processes, and consequently whose day to day existence, will change if and when the software is implemented. Most salespeople are outside the loop when these critical matters are hashed out, and wait on the sidelines until IT gets the go ahead.