The Future of Sales

Updated: November 11, 2009

For centuries, the sales model has been focused on placing a solution. Given the complexity of business these days, having the right solution to manage a ‘need' is not enough.

Buyers live in a very complex world now. With global stakeholders, economic downturns, enlarged decision teams, and an almost limitless number of options - all available at the drop of a hat - competition is far more complex than being addressed by us having a good solution and giving great service. And as a result, we're having greater difficulty closing sales. We'd like to think it's ‘the economy, stupid.' But in reality, the problem is more complex.

The only way to shift the results is to do something different. [You know the deal: You can't solve a problem using the same things that created the problem.] And sellers are kicking and screaming at the possibility of having to do something different.

But I can tell you that doing what you are doing will keep giving you the results you're getting. Sales is no longer a robust-enough model. The future of sales lie in actually helping buyers navigate through their internal decision issues that often have absolutely nothing to do with a problem or a solution. And their decision issues are managed, daily, by a plethora of internal people, policies, history, relationships, vendors, etc. that are independent on their need or our solution.


A prospect that a client of mine had been working with for a year finally, after 3 visits and 3 trials, decided to not purchase the product. I spoke with the prospect that was the head of Learning and Development: What stopped her from being able to buy a product that they loved? The new HR director was a very difficult person to deal with, and the prospect didn't want to get into a fight and decided to not purchase rather than deal with him.

So this had nothing to do with need or solution, and everything to do with a buyer's behind-the-scenes decision issues. What I did was to give the L&D person a list of Facilitative Questions to use with the HR guy to help them decide to work together efficiently on behalf of all of the employees. This worked, and they bought the product the next week.

But it had nothing to do with a problem, a need, a solution, or a relationship. It had to do with helping the buyer manage their off-line issues. And the sales model does not manage these issues: the buyer must manage these issues, on their own and without us, and it's a confusing journey.

Herein lie the problem with sales: it does not have the tools to help buyers manage their private, off-line, non-problem/solution related issues.

What would you need to believe differently to be willing to consider adding a new skill set to the one you are already using, and have been using successfully for years?

How would you know that adding a decision facilitation model, related to the buyer's change patterns not needs, would give you the ability to close more sales?

What would you need to see, understand, or agree with, to be willing to shift your initial approach to a buyer and instead focus on being the GPS system to lead your buyer through their internal decision issues before starting the sales process?

Buying Facilitation® is the future of sales. I don't see our environment or economy or our competition getting any easier. I believe it's time to learn a new skill set that will help buyers make the internal decisions necessary to buy.

Would you rather sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities.


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