The 'Buying Decision Funnel'

A New Sales Paradigm

There are two segments to a sale: the buying decision segment and the product decision segment. Until now, sales has focused on the product decision, as we've had no way to enter into that hidden place buyers go to resolve the necessary internal people/policy/politics issues to get buy-in. Buying Facilitation is outside of the normal range of product/solution-related questions sellers ask as part of their product sale. It offers an additional set of tools to help the buyer manage their internal decisions ethically and elegantly so they can buy quickly, differentiate products and sellers, and trust sellers.

Part of the Buying Facilitation Method® is the Buying Decision Funnel. This BDF is based on the internal sequence that buyers eventually go through anyway, but it makes the entire process conscious, and capable of being influenced by the seller. Most importantly, the BDF should be used prior to product pitch or presentation, as the means to help buyers make the internal decisions that influence their problem resolution.

The Buying Decision Funnel is a sequential thinking process that helps prospects recognize those aspects of their culture that need to be changed, aligned and managed in order for them to make a decision based on the best solution for them. Begin the Buying Decision Funnel by asking one or two open questions and then develop Facilitative Questions that will help the client recognize all the variables that need to be managed before a decision gets made.

You are not asking questions in the funnel to get information about the prospect. You are asking questions to give prospects a chance to gain access to information about all of the parameters of their own problems. Through the Funnel, using Facilitative Questions, buyers will recognize what's missing, how they can fix the problem with their current internal resources (buyers will not choose an outside solution until they've explored all internal options) and what systems issues need to be managed so a solution will not disrupt the status quo. Don't push product yet, or your prospects will continue to attempt to fix the problem with their own familiar solutions.

Make sure you ask about any other people, relationships or initiatives that a new solution would affect. Should they be integrated into the decision-making process? A collaborative, objective examination of the Problem Space makes it easier for prospects to recognize the need for an external solution. Change your questions as you move to the Solution Space. Ask how introducing your product as a solution would affect the status quo.

From: Selling with Integrity: Reinventing Sales through Collaboration, Respect and Serving
© 1997 Sharon Drew Morgen

Related Insights:
Buying Facilitation: How to Choose What to Say -- Part 1 (Agreeing)
Buying Facilitation: How to Choose What to Say -- Part 2 (Summarizing)
Buying Facilitation: Questioning and Listening
The Buying Facilitation Model: A Synopsis
The Ten-Step Buyer Decision-Making Process
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