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Sharon Drew Morgen

Change management and sales: influencing the buying decision path

Buyers want to solve a problem in a way that causes the least disruption, and the last thing they want to do is bring something new into their environment. But until the stakeholders (decision makers, influencers, appropriate managers) agree that making a purchase is the only way to get where they want to end up, and all of the people that will touch the new solution buy-in to altering the status quo (their policies, relationships, rules, past decisions, job descriptions, etc), they will not make a purchase or a change: they will continue the dysfunctional behavior even when an ideal solution is right in front of them.

While you might see your solution as offering a better alternative to what they are doing now, buyers have systemic issues to handle when they bring in something new. Making a purchase, or doing something different, means

  • some sort of change management to ensure that the new and the old work together
  • helping folks who touch the current practices be willing and able to change.
  • understanding and diminishing any fallout that will ensue.

Bringing in something new into an existent system – whether it’s a purchase or an implementation – is a change management problem.

A Buying Decision Is A Change Management Problem

Sales, marketing automation, and the new telemarketing field, ignore the change management aspect of what buyers must accomplish and instead focus on figuring out how and what and to whom to pitch their solution. Let me back track a bit. Givens:

  1. sales manages the needs assessment and solution placement portion of the buyer’s decision.
  2. neither sales nor marketing go behind-the-scenes, into the environment/culture in which the buyer lives, to help facilitate the non-solution-focused internal political or relational issues buyers must address to get the necessary buy-in and make the necessary adjustments to their culture that change demands.
  3. buyers don’t know their route through change when they begin to think about resolving a problem.
  4. the time it takes buyers to get the appropriate buy-in from all who will touch the solution is the length of the sales/change cycle. Until they figure this entire process out, they cannot buy. This is considered the pre-sales process.

These are the issues we come smack up against as sales folks: we try to push a solution into a group that haven’t progressed through their entire change management path and get objections and time delays as buyers figure it out. And we are so dedicated to finding ways to present our solution that we are blind to the buyers needs to manage change. I often ask my own clients where their prospects are in their change path at the point and initially they want to pitch and they have no idea.

A Solution Can’t Compromise The Status Quo

Buyers have 13 steps they must take from first idea to making a purchase. Sales enters and manages steps 10-13. Steps 1-9 are the pre-sales process that focuses on change and determining if a purchses is necessary: assembling the right people, understanding the effects that solving a problem will produce, getting buy-in for a course of action – and then, determining if/what/why they want to buy. Unfortunately, as outsiders we can never understand what’s going on – nor do we need to. We just need to help them do it themselves. When we enter too early for them, we potentially speak to the wrong person/people, at the wrong time – and then we sit and wait while they figure it out. We are holding a hammer, waiting for the time when they are ready with a nail. But this is a much more efficient way to do this.

I actually developed a pre-sales model that facilitates a buyer’s change management process call Buying Facilitation®. Although not a sales model, it works with sales but employs a wholly different skill set that actually shows buyers how to manage the systemic change they will face when purchasing a solution or bringing something new in to their status quo. It not only teaches buyers how to get the requisite buy-in so their daily functioning won’t be compromised – managing the people, policies, technology, and old vendor, etc. issues – but shows them how to pro-actively manage the change that will happen once the new solution is on board. After using Buying Facilitaiton® then it’s time to use the sales behaviors you’ve grown accustomed to. I’m not taking away sales; I’m just employing it at the right time.

If the tech guy doesn’t want to outsource work; if the sales and marketing folks are not talking to each other; if the “C” level person has a favored vendor from 3 years ago; if there is already something in place that cost a bundle and the buyer merely wants to tack on yet another fix – if anything political or relational is going on internally that would compromise the system, the buyer will not buy: they will not buy if the system itself would be at risk.

Let’s teach buyers first how to buy – how to manage their change so they are ready for you to sell and place your solution.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method (www.sharondrewmorgen.com) in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

Jeffrey Gitomer

What can you do to get better? Follow the masters.

I began this year in retrospect by reading a 60-year-old book on the masters of selling. The book, titled “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” was written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953.

The book was based on the fact that each one of these master salespeople had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based.

Not that it was their ‘only,’ but rather were the words they stood for. For example: When you think of Martin Luther King – you think of “I Have A Dream.” He stood for those words. When you think of Patrick Henry – you think of, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” When you think of Richard Nixon – you think “I’m Not a Crook.” (and you’d be thinking wrong)

It is amazing how self-truths become self-evident truths after thirty or forty years of exposure – one way or the other.

Back to the book. Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these master’s single best characteristic into your own set of capabilities. That would be power.

And so, to challenge your 2015 thinking, here are the master’s philosophies from 1953. And yes, I have added my own to the list – even though in 1953 I was a mere child.

  1. James A. Farley (corporate executive) Principle: Idlers do not last long. Starting as a door-to-door salesman, raising to Vice President of Sales for Universal Gypsum, and ultimately a board of director for several large companies including Coca-Cola, Farley believed that doing several things at once was the key to accomplishment. His secret was doing new things at the same time he was following up and building relationships. Often sending 100 letters a day, he was renowned for making and keeping friends.
  2. Max Hess, Jr. (retail store chain owner) Principle: Strive for a specific goals. Hess’s father used to say, “There’s no fun or excitement in just running a store. That way it’s drudgery. The fun and excitement come out of always figuring ways to stay ahead of the other fellow.” He believed in the stimulating power of keeping Hess Brothers forever exciting – exciting not only for the people who shop there but for those who work in the store. Hess made a business plan full of goals. And in a small town environment achieved big city results by working his plan every day, and having a happy army of people (his employees) helping him every step of the way.
  3. Conrad N. Hilton (hotel owner) Principle: Make them want to come back. “It is our theory that when a hotel is in the top-glamour category… you just can’t make it too luxurious. You heap it on. You never stop pondering the question, ‘What aren’t guests getting that they might be getting in the way of elegance and personal attention?’” Hilton knew that one hotel is like any other hotel. The difference is in how you treat the guests. All he asked of his employees was to be nice to people so they will want to come back. They have been coming back for nearly 100 years.
  4. Alex M. Lewyt (manufacturer of the Lewyt vacuum cleaner) Principle: Believe in your product and love it. So will the world! He was an engineer that was convinced he had built the world’s best vacuum cleaner. Advertised it before production was finished. Created a demand in the market with no product (a market vacuum if you will pardon the pun). When the cleaner finally emerged on the market, it was swept up (sorry again). Four million sales in four years. Lewyt said that having the best product is not enough. You must believe it’s the best, and share your passion through every marketing and advertising means.
  5. Mary Margaret McBride (radio broadcaster and columnist. Influencer of millions) Principle: Honesty is the best policy. “If I am convinced in my heart and mind that I’m speaking the truth, I approach the job as I would a sale – with zest and interest. And in my heart I know that I am actually performing a service on behalf of my listener – who is in reality, my customer. Honesty breeds loyal customers.” Her values made her a fortune.

GITOMER NOTE ON HONESTY: When you hear a corporate message like: “To serve you better…” or an employee says, “We’re doing the best we can…,” no matter how you want to defend those words, they’re lies.

The Orison Swett Marden quote: “No substitute has yet been found for honesty,” is a benchmark that everyone will read and agree with — yet very few will follow.

OK. There’s five of them. Pretty cool so far, huh? Next week in part two, more of the master salespeople of their time, including Red Motley and Elmer Letterman, will reveal sales insights that will take you to the next level.

Stay tuned…


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

The Holy Grail of Content Marketing – and When to Recommend It

With much of the business world abuzz about content marketing, smart marketers are taking stock of opportunities for their clients to use the power of story to convey a message and build stronger brands. Conspicuously absent from most content strategies, however, is the granddaddy of all content marketing: writing a book.

The benefits of launching a book are many: increased visibility and credibility, tighter messaging, an angle around which to build a publicity campaign, a tool to acquire new business, and more. But writing a book is a daunting task for most, and a long process to boot. On top of that, many would-be authors doubt whether their ideas are book-worthy. So as a trusted advisor, when should you include writing a book in the recommendations you provide to your client? Here are four key elements to look for:


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About the Author

Tanya HallTanya Hall is the CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, a publisher and distributor with a specialty in developing non-fiction bestsellers and brands. Learn more at http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/home and connect with Tanya on Twitter at @tanyahall.