The Steps of a Sale: from the buying decision to the close


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We have a winner for my contest! Robert Merrill! Although he had a couple of things reversed, he was sooo close that I declare him the winner!!

Here are my choices, in the correct order, with an explanation under each. We can all discuss these. Submit your comments below.

First a comment: the sales model only manages needs assessment and solution placement. Unfortunately it acts as of their ‘need’ were a isolated event. It’s not. Buyers live in a ’system’ that holds their Identified Problem in place and maintains it over time, creating work-arounds that become part of the system. Before buyers can make a purchase, their must be buy-in to the proposed change, and the buy-in must manage all of the people and policies and relationships involved in the work-around the buyer has in place. In other words, a buying decision is far more complex than just fixing a problem. Buying Facilitation® is a decision navigation model that helps buyers recognize and make their internal decisions and bring together the right people and so they can make a purchase. It’s an add-on to sales.

Here are the steps in selling with Buying Facilitation® at the front end. The first phase helps decisions get made to promote buy-in, change, and recognition of what needs to be addressed. We usually wait for buyers to do this, but now we can help. Have a look at the steps, and see how you can add them to what you’re doing.

Help the gatekeeper discover who your best point of contact would be.

Do NOT try to ‘get through’ the gatekeeper. She knows the best person to connect you with – she is your friend. And do NOT attempt to ‘go to the top.’ The top person is rarely ‘the decision maker’ and almost always delegates to the correct people. Sellers waste so much time trying to get to the CEO. Instead, ask for the CEO’s assistant, and tell her what you need, and she’ll get you to the right people. Question: who is in control of the conversation – you? or the Gatekeeper? It’s a no-brainer.

Use Facilitative Questions to get into rapport and have them begin to examine how or if or why they would consider changing their status quo.

Until or unless prospects determine to make a change, it doesn’t matter whether you can see their need, your solution is perfect, they think they need you/your solution, they love your solution and you’re giving them great service, etc. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Do you need to be working out more? It’s not about the gym. Using Facilitative Questions, prospects can collect their unconscious previous choices, and determine how, why, if, when they would consider adding new choices – like fixing a problem or choosing a solution.

One of the Facilitative Questions that I ask (as part of a series and not asked alone) when placing a sales training is: How would you know if it were time to add new sales skills to the ones you’re already offering your sales folks? This question gets them to think about the steps they need to take, the new choices they need to make, and if they are getting what they want now.

Remember: solutions are irrelevant at this stage. Facilitative Questions help the BUYER see the whole picture of what is going on strategically and tactically in their company, family, or system. Until or unless they know how to manage their system first, they will take no action. This has been left out of sales.

Lead prospects/buyers through the systems issues they must consider in order to determine how any proposed change will disrupt their status quo.

Facilitative Questions and Presumptive Summaries are used to help buyers look at their status quo with an unbiased eye. No matter what their ‘need’ or ‘problem’  if they don’t think they can change in a way that will maintain systems congruence, they will do nothing. Remember: the buyer’s environment/culture/system has lived with the Identified Problem until now, and can continue to do so. If they had had known how to resolve it differently, they would have resolved it already.

Facilitate prospect’s discovery of what sorts of strategic issues they must manage to get folks on board with potential change.

There are 3 levels of decisions necessary: systems, strategic, and tactical. Addressing them in this order is optimal. It’s important to note that things are rarely this simple: it’s usually an iterative process.

Lead prospects/buyers through tactical issues they must manage before they can choose a solution.

Once they determine that 1. their system would be willing to shift to add something/change/resolve something; 2. that their rules, relationships, people, are willing to change; 3. they know how to shift congruently, they will then be willing to bring in a new solution. Until or unless their status quo is reconfigured in a way that the insiders are willing to support, they will do nothing: the risk to their functioning is too high. Hence the longer-than-necessary sales cycle.

You sit and wait for them to do this anyway. They must do it with you or without you – so it might as well be with you.

Help the prospect choose the members of the Buying Decision Team.

Through your decision facilitation process, help the buyer recognize the right people to bring in. Usually they don’t know who it will be until way down the road when they’ve stumbled across the appropriate job descriptions… much like you don’t know all the trials you’ll face before you start a move. Prospects haven’t ever done this particular change before, and it takes a while for them to get it right. We can either help them navigate through, or we can wait. They must do it.

Discuss how your solution fits with the internal issues that they must manage.

This step is about melding your solution with the entire range of issues they have to manage internally, including the people, policies, and relationships.

Discuss/present your solution and show the prospect/buyer how it would fit with their need/problem.

Once they do all of the above, they will know how to buy, and you can mention just those bits of data they need to know, to recognize how it fits within their entire picture. It’s not about the features and functions: How, exactly, will the Buying Decision Team know how to manage the new solution with their team, or bring one in so there is buy-in and nothing is disrupted.

Follow up to see if there is anything you can do to help the prospect/buyer decide to purchase.

This is part of a good sales job, of course.


Develop marketing materials to professionally represent your solution either on-line or in person.

When working with KPMG, they shifted from their half a million dollar wizzy presentation to a $35,000 presentation then down to nothing. Once a buyer and their team recognize and manage all of the internal issues they must address, a large presentation is rather moot. First of all, you’re material is on-line. Second of all, they already know who you are and trust you (you’ve been on the Buying Decision Team with them). Third, they already know how to manage their buying decision process and how, exactly, your product will fit with their strategic and tactical issues. So a formal pitch is often no longer necessary.

These are not necessary at all:

Make an appointment to get in front of the prospect

This is a hold-over from another era. If your job is to first help buyers put together their decision team and figure out how to make buying decisions, your bright shiny face is irrelevant. You can do all of the above without meeting a client. And then when you get there, the entire Buying Decision Team will be there and you wouldn’t have wasted any time/visits.

Manage objections and differentiate yourself from the competition.

The sales model creates objections because it pushes data/solution info against a ‘closed system.’ When you hear an objection, it’s merely the system defending itself against change. Once you teach the system how to manage buy-in without disruption, there are no objections.

That’s it, folks. Let’s start a discussion. Let me know how your thinking has changed. And if you want to learn more, read my new book Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it in which Buying Facilitation® and the new decision navigation system is developed in detail. And thanks for playing!


Wanting to learn more? Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what to do about it. Check out the site for more details.

Or consider purchasing the bundleDirty Little Secrets plus my last book Buying Facilitation®: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions. These books were written to be read together, as they offer the full complement of concepts to help you learn and understand Buying Facilitation® - the new skill set that gives you the ability to lead buyers through their buying decisions. In addition, you will also receive a bonus illustrated booklet.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sharon-Drew Morgen
I'm an original thinker. I wrote the NYT Bestseller Selling with Integrity and 8 other books bridging systemic brain change models with business, for sales, leadership, communications, coaching. I invented Buying Facilitation(R) (Buy Side support), How of Change(tm) (creates neural pathways for habit change), and listening without bias. I coach, train, speak, and consult companies and teams who seek Servant Leader models.


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