Sharon Drew’s ‘retirement’ & the Future of Buying Facilitation®
In 1988, I trained Helping Buyers Buy to a sales team at KLM. In 1997 my 2nd book Selling with Integrity was on the NYTimes Business Bestseller’s list. In 1998 I was on CNN Airport News, in 6 minute segments, 8 times a day for a week, worldwide. I have been on over 1000 radio shows, trained over 20,000 people on 5 continents in many of the Fortune 100 companies, and written over 550 blogs, 1000 articles, and 7 books that sold to over 500,000 people, in 3 languages. I currently have licensees in 6 countries training my programs. My sales blog has consistently been on the top 10 of all sales/marketing blogs for years, with 20 syndications. Several global corporations have trained Buying Facilitation® to their entire international teams with an average success of 600% increase over the control group which used only the sales model.
By any objective standard, I’ve been successful: It’s been a blessing that an out-of-the-box idea has had the opportunity to have a world forum – imagine: one woman with a revolutionary idea making a difference in an age-old field. But my active outreach to gain a broader market is now complete.
I not only have said all there is to say (my latest book Dirty Little Secrets presents the complete strategic thinking), but my Asperger’s makes it difficult for me to do what’s necessary to take the idea further. Indeed, the more I procrastinate leaving, the more harm I’m doing to Buying Facilitation® – fine, important material that is being underutilized, possibly because of my lack of appropriate communication skills.
THE LIMITS OF MY CAPABILITY: THE ROLE OF ASPERGER’S
I suspect I’ve done a bad job helping mainstream sales understand how Buying Facilitation® offers sellers tools to help buyers navigate through their behind-the-scenes decisions and why it’s a necessary part of the sales process. I’m guessing that it might have taken a non-Asperger’s person less time (with more success) to get the thinking into the field. Maybe someone less pushy, or less obnoxious, less direct, or less annoying – all traits of my Asperger’s that I’ve spent decades learning to contain (sometimes successfully, when I’m aware), but are impossible to eliminate.
But maybe it took my focused personality, determination and vision to develop the full set of skills and design learning programs that have achieved the global success we’ve had. Maybe this time line has been appropriate and necessary. I’ll never know the answer to that, of course. It is, as they say, what it is.
Frankly, I have to work hard to not blame myself for Buying Facilitation® not being in the hands of every single sales person by now. My rationale is that it’s not unusual for a new concept to take this path. It took the telephone over 60 years to be adopted. That’s right. People preferred Morse Code over the telephone. For 60 years. I guess my 23 years wasn’t enough. :) But maybe the field of sales truly doesn’t want to add the capability of facilitating the buyer’s change management issues. Or maybe a combination of it all.
I’ll never know the answer. What I do know is that it’s time for me to move on. I’ll continue working with coaching clients, do occasional keynotes, and do Buying Facilitation® training for a few select companies if they are ready and the opportunity is fun. I’ll continue supporting my licensees to make sure the work stays alive. And although I won’t be writing much fresh material, I’ll keep my blog up, and regularly change out articles: with over 550, there is plenty of reading matter for those interested in learning.
But I will end my daily activities around placing Buying Facilitation®. If anyone else wants to carry the ball forward and make the material ready for mainstream, that would be great. It’s a model that can be trained for decades, with conventional sales models, and it’s now at its Breakpoint. Fingers crossed it crosses the chasm and eventually gets trained along with sales training in both companies and in universities. I understand it might not happen.
I am clear that I’ve done the best I could and feel quite proud that I’ve made a contribution to the field.
Hopefully, I’ll be remembered as the woman who first discussed ‘helping buyers buy’ or ‘the buying decision path’ or ‘the buying decision journey’ or the Buying Decision Team. Or the concept that a purchase is a change management problem. Or that by using Buying Facilitation®, sales becomes a servant-leader practice. Or that a buying decision is 90% based on what goes on behind-the-scenes and is not solution-related.
I’ve recently become excited about putting my model into Marketing Automation, and I’ve developed the EXpediter©, an intelligent contact sheet that actually leads buyers through their buying decisions using technology. I’m still getting pushback on this idea, but far less than from the sales field.
I’m also putting together the skeleton for my life-long dream: The Institute of Practical Decision Making in Abu Dhabi, so I can offer my collaborative decision making system to teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, negotiators, coaches, parents, couples, or teachers. (My material was never meant to remain in sales.) Maybe I’ll sit on a mountaintop in Peru and let my brain create something wild. Or catch up on my reading, and write a book on practical decision making. Or just languish in Paris eating crepes and getting fat.
Whatever it is, I’ll hopefully still be making a difference in the field of practical, collaborative decision making, as that is my life’s work. But I must rediscover my creative spirit that has been lost over the past few years.
So if you’re looking to learn Buying Facilitation® read my books and articles. Or get the Guided Study program. Or one of my licensees can teach Facilitating Buying Decisions. Or listen to me use the Facilitative Questions on an MP3.
Thank you for the opportunity you’ve offered me to make a difference and help make sales a spiritual practice. And what a fine opportunity it has been.
For those of you wishing to learn Buying Facilitation®, the best course of action is to get the Guided Study program. It’s quite a serious program, for serious learners. It takes a bit of time do complete, but by the end you’ll be almost as good as me ;)
For those of you just wishing to dabble, and learn just a few new skills, get the Automated Learning modules, or the MP3s, or the flash drive with both the Ebook Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that expands and influences decisions and the MP3s.
There is plenty of material to read, especially articles on how Buying Facilitation® differs from sales, and the skills necessary to learn it. It is not just an idea – it is an actual skill set that involves wholly different thinking and behaviors (and outcomes) from sales: Buying Facilitation® and Sales: The Dynamic Duo; A Buying Decision is a Change Management Problem; Selling Doesn’t Cause Buying; The Buyer’s Buying Process vs. The Sales Model: Two Divergent Roads; The Heart of Sales; Buying Facilitation® is a Method, Not Just a Term
Good luck, folks. And for those of you who are serious students, I’m here for you.
What a beautiful, happy, sad, thoughtful email you sent Friday. You’ve carried the Buying Facilitation torch for so long, courageously and intensely.… You’ve given and written and spoken far beyond generously….So many articles and books and tools… So many “almosts” and dead ends… You’ve been a model for others of us who are trying to bring ideas to market. And you have moved the sales field forward. I can’t imagine your sadness and disappointment. I admire your courage and resolve to let it go and move on with your health intact (I hope), focusing on clients that are fun, developing the Institute for Practical Decision Making, and restoring your creativity. We’ll strap ourselves in when we feel the earth rumbling again.
Nick Miller, President, Clarity Advantage