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Buying Decision Enablement: put the human side of decision making into the work flow

Monday, 16 August 2010

Sales enablement is the new new thing: technology is taking over a lot of the solution discovery and data-sharing parts of a seller’s job. Obviously, that leaves sellers either playing catch up – knowing only a portion of the data that buyers show up knowing – or being caught flatfooted to competitors with a bigger web footprint.

Indeed, too often now, buyers end up making decisions based on unknown criteria, leaving sellers with little or no way of being involved once buying decisions are made.

It’s time folks. It’s time to add buying decision enablement. It’s time to add skills and technology that puts the human side of decision making into the workflow.


As sellers, we believe that with the right solution we have a good value prop when a buyer’s need is a match. But we still – regardless of how we are tracking digital footprints, buying queries or calls –  have no idea what the heck is going on behind-the-scenes. We certainly have no way to influence it. So we end up entering a buyer’s sphere around their solution and leave them on their own to handle their Buying Decision Teams and partner issues,  and we have no idea where they are in their buying decision cycle when they contact us.

And, while we now have little control over what buyers know when they show up, we certainly can be taking a lot more control of the buying decision a lot earlier than we are now. As of now, the buying decision enablement issues – those pesky, private, issues buyers must address internally to get buy-in to consider a purchase – are being handled by no one except the buyer – and certainly they have a hard time figuring it out also (read about their buying decision journey issues in my latest book Dirty Little Secrets).

I recently had a coaching call with a client who has been a sales VP for 8 years in a large software house. He wanted help facilitating the buyer’s buying decision issues during a presentation for a big prospect meeting. The heads of sales and marketing (obvious members of the Buying Decision Team) would be there with some of their teammates. It had taken him 3 meetings with one of these people to help her amass the others. He was thrilled. But who else, I asked, needs to be on the team that would make a buying decision? He had no idea. OK, I said. Think of an implementation buyers must manage once you’ve sold the solution. Who would need to be on their team? He came up with a few: 1.the tech folks 2. an internal project manager 3. the users 4. internal training,  to name the obvious. No idea who else. But even these folks were not represented at the meeting. (Btw, during our call we came up with 4 others.)

What did he assume?

  • That the few at the meeting would carry the message? What would that sound like? If they did that, my client would be absolutely out of the loop.
  • That these few at the meeting were seeing other vendors and comparing them before getting the others involved?
  • That they weren’t far enough along to consider who to add to the initial group – a sure sign that they were in early days and hadn’t even considered who might need to meet with my client?
  • That this group was just gathering data in case they wanted to move forward (and obviously would need to handle team creation and buy-in at some point) either with a vendor or by doing solving the problem with their on tech team?
  • That there were a few curious folks with no pressing desire to make any changes?

The fact is, by focusing on solution placement, there is no way to know.


Technology can now help buyers figure out what solution would be best. But it certainly doesn’t help them manage their behind-the-scenes decision issues. At the moment I’m discussing with a few tech companies how to add Buying Facilitation™ to the front end of their sales enablement software so they can enter the buyer’s decision journey earlier and make it part of the work flow. But so can you.

What do you want your job to be? If you continue to focus on the solution end of the buyer’s decision, you’re going to be competing with sales enablement software just like any other competitor and your jobs (given only 50% of you are meeting quota) are doomed. But if you let the software do its job, and add some decision facilitation skills to be able to serve the buyer in a new way during their initial change management issues, you’ll be able to compete in a way that technology can’t. Until, of course, they get smart and start putting buying enablement capability on the front end. Then we’ll have a different conversation.


ANNOUNCING: The Buyer’s Journey: free Webinar (complete with Q&A capability) on August 19th with SHARON DREW MORGEN and MARK SELLERS of the BuyCycle™Funnel.

Mark and I have planned a cool discussion about both ends of the buying decision process that buyers must go through, starting with their behind-the-scenes discussions, decisions, change management issues, Buying Decision Team selection (and how you can be an integral part of this process with Buying Facilitation™). Then Mark will explain the solution-orientated buying process by using his BuyCycle Funnel and how you can help buyers manage the steps they must take to complete the purchase with you by their side.

This should be a fascinating discussion (led by Bob Thompson of CustomerThink) – the first of its kind. Please join us. It’s free, and we have a lot to share. Email me with questions – sharondrew@newsalesparadigm.com – or sign up here.

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