05 May

Guest Blog: When Should a Seller Gather Information or Understand Needs?

Part 2: Do you want to sell? Or have someone buy? by Sharon Drew Morgen

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeby feather

Sharon-Drew Morgen

Part 1 redefines buying thus: The process a buyer goes through to get their ducks in a row to manage all of the factors involved prior to, and including, making a purchase.  It explains why the sales focus of seeking appointments, gathering information, offering solution data, and understanding needs doesn’t lead to a higher percentage of closed sales:

  • you’re asking biased solution/problem-focused questions
  • based on what you want to sell, and listening for problems you can resolve,
  • that probably captures partial or incorrect data
  • about problems that may not may not be recognized by the prospect,
  • (someone who most likely doesn’t know or trust you) and
  • may not represent the group of people who may or may not be the ultimate buyers
  • who may only have partial knowledge of, or authority over, the final situation
  • and may only partially represent a larger group
  • who may not have officially assembled or reached consensus yet
  • to seek answers they don’t yet have questions for.

You’re connecting with potential buyers who aren’t at a point where they can buy: regardless of your skill set, or the validity of the solution, questions or need, buyers can’t have useful data to share until

– whoever touches the final solution (Buying Decision Team) assembles and
– agrees to resolve a problem
– with an effective route to managing any change issues with minimum disruption.

Otherwise, even those who need your solution won’t take a meeting, speak with you, or possibly even know they have a need: the adjustments/consensus/change management necessary for making a purchase is so much bigger (regardless of the prize, size, or type of solution) than choosing a solution. To understand this better, read Part 1.

CASE STUDY

Sellers currently waste over 90% of their time trying to understand needs or gathering data (or seeking an appointment or presenting to ‘decision makers’) before a buyer would even know how to accurately respond to their questions. It’s like trying to guess a picture on a jigsaw puzzle with only 2 pieces visible.

Here’s a Case Study in which I used Buying Facilitation® (a model I developed to facilitate the pre-sales processes) with a global bank. Note: even though the buyer was the ‘The Decision Maker’ with the budget, there was a complex set of behind-the-scenes issues that needed resolution and wouldn’t have been uncovered had I begun by trying to understand his need or gathering information. In this scenario – as in most, even in a small sale – until the full Buying Decision Team was formed (many of whom my client hadn’t thought of including) and discussed their unique problems, the full set of needs couldn’t have been defined. And I would have wasted about a year and possibly never made the sale.

BANK: I’m the head of Commercial Banking at B Bank. I wonder if you can help. Our tech guys are creating a program for customers in our 4,000 branches so they can choose the most appropriate of our 200 products. Is there a way to add Buying Facilitation® to help them?

SDM: Sure. But what’s stopping your techies from wanting to do it themselves?

BANK: Nothing. They’re reading two or three of your books and trying to get the essence of Buying Facilitation® into their programming.

SDM: So how would your decision team know that working directly with me would give them a different capability than working with the tech guys using my books?

BANK: They wouldn’t. They would prefer to use the in-house guys.

SDM: So how would they know which route would best get their goals met effectively?

BANK: I would have to put together the Buying Decision Team so they could determine what they need to figure out. Would you be willing to have a conference call with them?

SDM: Sure. Who do you think should be involved?

BANK: We only need the Head of Technology I think.

SDM: Well, with 4000 branches [represents at least 40,000 employees] I bet HR might want to be involved.

BANK: Oh! We always forget her, and when we finally bring her aboard she creates havoc because she demands so many changes. Good to bring her in in the beginning!

SDM: And do you have user groups to represent the 4000 branches?

BANK: Ah. Let’s bring in the representatives of the two user groups.

Four days later we had a conference call that included: the heads of HR, Branches, Technology, Retail Banking, Commercial Banking, Training, Internal Consulting, and Marketing. During introductions the President of the bank got on the phone! He wasn’t a decision maker; he didn’t have a budget; he wasn’t part of the project.

BANK: What are you doing on the phone, Mr. X?

PRESIDENT: I saw all you heavy hitters on one call and wanted to find out what kind of trouble you were getting into.

During the call the President kept objecting: “I’m not letting you folks do that!” “What a mess that will cause!” I intervened with Facilitative Questions that got them to collaboratively think about how to manage that issue and move forward. At the end of the call I was firmly on the Buying Decision Team. I had not mentioned my solution; there was not enough consensus among them for them to understand their needs. I helped my prospect assemble the right people in 10 minutes (might have taken him a year), and then help them recognize the issues they needed to contend with before they could consider buying or changing anything.

FACILITATING THE CHANGE AND CONSENSUS FIRST

For a month emails went back and forth. I kept posing Facilitative Questions to help them figure stuff out. Within the month, they had consensus, decided what they needed and how they would move forward – with the blessing of the President. They then paid to bring me to the UK – and THEN I gathered information from the right people – all of whom were present and understood their needs – and THEN I made a targeted sales pitch to all of the decision makers! Without my expertise, the buyers would have been bogged down with their change issues and internal objections and the sales cycle would have taken more than a year. If they were ever going to buy, they needed to do this anyway: This is the stuff buyers do outside of our purview; we’re just not usually there when it happens.

I facilitated and expedited their change in the area that my solution would fit. It would have been inappropriate to pitch during the month-long decision facilitation process – they had no idea what they were going to buy, if they could buy, or if they couldn’t do it themselves. I would have missed the opportunity to help them get ready to buy, earn their trust, and understand the full complement of needs they didn’t initially know they had. I had nothing to sell until they had something to buy.

My job – which took me just a few hours for a 6 figure engagement – was to first facilitate their ability to change, and then buy.

I’m not suggesting you give up information gathering or understanding needs, although starting here gives you a paltry close rate and wastes 95% of your time. I am suggesting that you first facilitate the complete decision path (some folks call this pre-sales) – and then use sales. Buyers have to do this anyway, with you or without you. You might as well learn a new skill and stop chasing the low hanging fruit.

__________

I’ve developed Buying Facilitation®, which is an add-on to the sales process to help buyers understand and collect their pre-sales decision factors. It includes a different set of skills than sales, including Listening for Systems, and uses a new form of question called a Facilitative Question. Contact me to discuss training, coaching, and consulting: sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com. Or read Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell at www.dirtylittlesecrets.com or Buying Facilitation®. Or read my newest book What? on how to hear others without bias: www.didihearyou.com.

a

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailby feather
21 Apr

Guest blog: Do you want to lead? or have someone follow?

by Sharon Drew Morgen

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeby feather

Sharon-Drew Morgen

I’m a dancer. When I studied the Argentine Tango there was a foundational rule that I believe is true for all leaders: The leader opens the door for the follower to pass through, and the leader then follows. If anyone notices the leader, he’s not doing his job. The goal is to showcase the follower.

Much of what is written about leadership falls into the category I call ‘trait-centered leadership’: someone deemed ‘at the top’ who uses his/her personality, influence, and charisma to inspire and give followers – possibly not ready for change – a convincing reason to follow an agenda set by the leader or the leader’s boss. Sounds to me like a mixture of Jack Welch, Moses, and Justin Bieber.

What if the leader’s goal overrides the mental models, beliefs or historic experiences of the followers, or the change is pushed against the follower’s values, and resistance ensues? What if the leader uses his/her personality as the reason a follower should change? Or has a great message and incongruent skills? Or charisma and no integrity? Adolf Hitler, after all, was the most charismatic leader in modern history.

IF YOU CAN’T FOLLOW, YOU CAN’T LEAD

Whether it’s for a group that needs to perform a new task, or someone seeking heightened outcomes, the role of leadership is to

  1. Facilitate congruent change and choice,
  2. in accordance with the values, skills, and ability of the follower,
  3. enabling them to shift their own unique (unconscious) patterns,
  4. to discover and attain new behaviors congruently and without resistance,
  5. within the parameters of the required change.

It demands humility and authenticity. It’s other-centered and devoid of ego, similar to a simple flashlight that merely lights the existent path, enabling followers to discover their own excellence within the context of the change sought. It’s an inside job.

Being inspirational, or a good influencer with presence and empathy, merely enlists those whose beliefs and unconscious mental models are already predisposed to the change, and omits, or gets resistance from, those who should be part of the change but whose mental models don’t align.

This form of leadership has pluses and minuses.

  • Minuses: the final outcome may look different than originally envisaged because the followers set the route according to their values and mental models.
  • Pluses: everyone will be enthusiastically, creatively involved in designing what will show up as their own mission, with a far superior proficiency. It will more than meet the vision of the leaders (although it might look different), and the followers will own it with no resistance.

Do you want to lead through influence, presence, charisma, or rationality? Or facilitate the unique path to congruent change? Do you want people to see you as a guide? Or teach them how to congruently move beyond their status quo and discover their own route to excellence – with you as a GPS system? Do you want to lead? Or enable real change? They are opposite constructs.

POWER VS. FORCE

Here are some differences in beliefs between trait-centered leadership and more facilitative leadership:

Trait-centered: Top down; behavior change and goal-driven; dependent on power, charisma, and persuasion skills of a leader and may not be congruent with foundational values of followers.

Facilitation-centered: Inclusive (everyone buys-in and agrees to goals, direction, change); core belief-change and excellence-driven; dependent on facilitating route between current state and excellence, leading to congruent systemic buy-in and adoption of new behaviors.

Real change happens at the belief level. Attempting to change behaviors without helping people change their beliefs first meets with resistance: the proposed change pushes against the status quo regardless of the efficacy of the change.

New skills are necessary for facilitation-centered leadership:

  1. Listen for systems.This enables leaders to hear the elements that created and maintain the status quo and would need to transform from the inside before any lasting change occurs. Typical listening is biased and restricts possibility.
    2. Facilitative Questions. Conventional questions are biased by the beliefs and needs of the Questioner, and restrict answers and possibility. Facilitative Questions enlist the unconscious systems and show them how to adopt change congruently.
    3. Code the route to systemic change. When asking folks to buy-in, build consensus, and collaborate, they don’t know how to make the necessary changes without facing internal resistance, regardless of the efficacy of the requested changes. By helping people move from their conscious to their unconscious back to their conscious, and facilitating buy-in down the line, it’s very possible to avoid resistance.

If you seek to enable congruent change that captures the passion and creativity of followers, avoids resistance, and enables buy-in, open the door and follow your followers.

Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of 9 books, including NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, and What? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard?  She has developed facilitation material for sales/change management, coaching, and listening. To learn more about her sales, decision making, and change management material, go to www.sharondrewmorgen.com. To learn more about her work on closing the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, go to www.didihearyou.com. Contact Sharon Drew for training, keynotes, or online programs at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com. Sharon Drew is currently designing programs for coaches to Find and Keep the Ideal Client, and Lead Facilitation for Lead Generation

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailby feather
20 Jan

No Doesn’t Always Mean No – Especially When It Comes To Women

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinyoutubeby feather

20-01-2013 18-14-39Almost every time I would ask someone in a public place if they needed help lifting or carrying a heavy package or luggage in the subway, train station or up flights of steps – usually a woman for obvious reasons of physical limitations – they told me “No, that’s ok” or “No thanks, I’m fine”.  So I’ve stopped asking.

Well, that’s not completely true.  I’ve stopped asking first.  Instead I act and then ask. My new technique has changed everything.  As a matter of fact my success rate has increased from maybe one in ten to ten in ten.

Whereas before I would approach someone and ask if I might help them up the stairs with the enormous suitcase or unmanageable package they were carrying – to which a demur reply of “No, that’s ok” was retorted without a moment of thought,  I now cautiously reach for their all-too-heavy-to-drag item while seeking permission in their eyes.  Once the handle is firmly in place or both my hands have secured the item, I ask the very same question I used to ask: “May I help you?”, and wham… success!  I get permission every single time.  I don’t remember the last time my services were rejected simply by changing the order from ask then do to do while seeking permission with body language then ask.

To be fair, I usually where a jacket and tie so I probably have that working for me, but on second thought, it has worked equally well in a t-shirt and jeans, so it is difficult to speculate as to whether my state of dress has any influence.  I certainly don’t have enough statistics to know if this technique will work for everyone, but I think it’s worth a try because ten out of ten is pretty good odds even if the experiment is isolated.

But one pauses.  Why is it that people are so uncomfortable with receiving help when it is so obvious that they could use it?  After all if someone asks if they can help it probably means that they want to.

I’m so sociologist, but perhaps this social dissonance comes from the fact that accepting help, paradoxically, requires us to admit that we need help; something that we are less apt to do when we feel incapable.

So here’s something to think about in the future if you are older or frail or just need a helping hand now and then: put down your suitcase or that bulky box and look around for a pair of eyes.  I, or one of my friends will be looking for you, and that’s what makes it a wonderful world.

Do you know someone who could use this advice?  Send it on….

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailby feather