Change is difficult for most of us and especially difficult for an organization full of individuals. Some of us resist, others encourage, others sabotage. If we want our organization to get change right, we’ve got to involve everyone who will be affected by the change and allow them to prepare themselves, their departments, and the organization’s systems to handle the change in an orderly manner–or everything turns to chaos, and if chaos is an anticipated result, we simply won’t institute the change no matter how potentially beneficial that change may be.
Buying creates change.
Whether purchasing a new product, replacing an existing vendor, or instituting a new program or service, when your prospects contemplate purchasing your products or services, they and their organizations are going to undergo significant change. Often that change never happens (that is, you don’t make a sale), not because your product or service doesn’t solve a real issue they have or because it won’t improve their sales or because it won’t improve productivity or reduce expenses. In fact, a great deal of the time purchases of products and services that have these very positive results are not made because the company can’t handle the change—yep, even extremely positive change—the product or service will create.
What does this mean for sellers? It means the way we sell is all wrong—or at least the way we deal with the concept of selling is all wrong.
Sharon Drew Morgen in Dirty Little Secrets: why buyer’s can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it (Morgen Publishing: 2009) changes the whole concept of the sales process. We sellers have been taught that we find a suspect, qualify them as a prospect, connect with them, identify a problem or issue, develop a solution, close the sale. Morgen says that this vision of selling is all wrong because it doesn’t take into consideration the change management issues that must be dealt with before our prospects can commit to making the purchase.
According to Morgen, when our prospects disappear—when they say “I’ll get back to you” and never do, where they’ve gone is to deal with all of the behind the scenes issues they must deal with prior to making the commitment to purchase. Why do most of them never get back to you? Morgen says because they have not been able to get the people or the systems within the company in alignment to make the purchase. Worse, all of this change management stuff is stuff that we as sellers have little knowledge or understanding of.
If all of this change management must take place before we can consummate a sale and it’s all out of our hands, is there anything we can do to either speed up the process or help the organization manage the change?
Yes, Morgen says, we can help facilitate the change by engaging the company—our buyer—with the Buying Facilitation method. This method, whose primary tool is Facilitative Questions, helps get all the necessary players within the company on board and leads them through thinking through the changes necessary to make the purchase possible.
Sound mysterious? This isn’t rocket science but it’s a far cry from light reading. Fortunately, Morgen makes it easier to understand by dividing the book into three sections.
The first section lays out the change management issue from the buyer’s perspective. She gives us insight into the changes a purchase necessitates—from its impact on individuals to company politics to systems. She gives a great example of what a buyer must go through when making a simple purchase of a couple of extra dining room chairs (I’ll leave it to you find out on your own by reading the book why it’s so difficult to sell a couple of chairs).
Section two goes through the process from the seller’s point of view, demonstrating where our traditional sales process has left us and our prospects high and dry.
And the third section details the Buying Facilitation method skills. Buying Facilitation is about change management, not selling. It is the precursor to selling, not a replacement for it. It involves its own set of skills that don’t replace your selling skills but instead allow eventually using those selling skills more effectively and closing more sales.
If you really want to begin to understand why your closing ratio is so low, if you really want to know why those prospects never get back to you, if you really want to know what your selling process is missing, read Dirty Little Secrets.