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The buyer’s buying process vs. the sales model: two divergent roads

Submitted by on Monday, 9 April 2012

The sales process is woefully inadequate. It merely focuses on the last 10% of the buying decision: the solution and vendor choice.

To understand and influence the buyer’s buying decision process and all of the people, politics and relationships that buyers must manage internally to be ready to make a purchase, it’s necessary for sellers to learn a new language. Not the language of sales, but the language of decision making, the language of systems, and the language of change management.

The sales model disregards the complex issues – both human and corporate - that buyers must handle behind-the-scenes. It’s the tech guy not wanting to outsource, or the management team not wanting training, or the sales and marketing folks who can’t work together. Human issues regarding change, or ego, or relationships. And sales does not facilitate this.

WHAT IS A BUYING DECISION?

The majority of a buying decision takes place before the consideration of a solution or vendor and includes

  • collecting an entire Buying Decision Team that includes all of the people and job functions that will touch the potential solution;
  • figuring out how to incorporate all of the appropriate systems/people issues so that when bringing in something new, the status quo will be able to maintain itself;
  • reviewing current work-arounds and current/favored vendors to ensure there is no possibility that familiar resources can resolve the problem;
  • getting the appropriate buy-in from the appropriate people to ensure there is support for change, no sabotage, and internal creativity/leadership;
  • the solution/vendor choice;
  • agreements and implementation strategies to ensure success.

Until or unless these things happen, a buyer cannot buy. Regardless of their ‘need.’ This is where buyers go when they disappear. You can help them manage this – but  not with the sales model.

THE BOTTOM FUNNEL – DECISION MAKING and SOLUTION CHOICE

The problem, in terms of lost revenue, lost prospects, overlong sales cycles,  and leads that come in at the top funnel but do not ‘come out’ the bottom, is that sales doesn’t offer the capability to enter the complete decision journey: you don’t enter early enough in their buying process. Not to mention, people do not know what to do with solution  information if they haven’t already opened a place for change and you are wasting their time and yours by presenting solution data too early.

At the ‘top of the funnel‘ you’ve collected names. You don’t know if they are leads, or prospects, or buyers. In some instances, they don’t know either. But when you approach them, not only do you have no idea if your solution is really what they need (you are merely assuming and hoping) and will fit in with their status quo, but they most likely have no idea either.

Sometimes you get lucky and the prospect has done all of the work already. But this is merely 5% of the leads you have – the ones who are easy, who are ready to buy. So you are pushing for appointments, doing presentations and pitches, to 95% of the lead population who needs something more from us: help with the off-line end of the buying process.

There is a way to enter the buyer’s buying process earlier, and help them manage their behind-the-scenes issues. But it’s not called ‘sales’ and it’s not solution/need driven.

Buying Facilitation™ is a very different skill, with a different focus, than sales. It’s a decision facilitation model that works alongside of sales and actually helps buyers navigate through the early part of their internal decision journey, much like a GPS system helps drivers navigate their route.

Your choice is to sit and wait for them to accomplish this, or hope that your pushing, or presentation, or product pitch or price reduction will result in a sale. And entering the buying process on the very first call makes the entire process much quicker and far, far easier.

Only 1-6% of sales are now closing. Obviously something is going on that you are not handling or you’d be closing far more.

Learn a new skill set to add to the sales model, and first help buyers manage their buy-in, change management journey. Differentiate yourself. Enter the buying process at the beginning. Buyers have to do this anyway – with you or without you. Rather than sit and wait for them to do it, be the GPS system for the buying process, and help buyers buy.

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To learn more about the Buying Facilitation Method®, here are some learning tools:

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