Have you ever read an article and heard your brain shout, “That is SO true!” or “That’s such a great way of putting it!”?
This happens to me every time I read anything written by Sharon Drew Morgen.
With so much noise out there, it’s a wonderful experience to read truly interesting articles. Sharon Drew, who now lives in a floating home in Oregon, has written 7 books and is the creator of the Buying Facilitation model for sellers and buyers.
When I talked to her recently, she told me, “All of my work trusts that people (buyers, clients) have their own answers and that all we have to do is facilitate the finding and implementation of their own brand of excellence (not ours).”
How then, can sellers facilitate the buying process? To start, they can trust that buyers have their own answers. That doesn’t mean they know what those answers are, however, and that’s where the concept of buying facilitation comes in. Sellers can provide immeasurable value if they can ask questions (and provide information) that help buyers think through and come to their own conclusion.
As is the case with almost anything, it’s easier said than done. Sellers are trained to ask qualifying questions. They’re trained to describe benefits. And in some cases, they’re trained to challenge buyer’s thinking, ala the Challenger Sale. In other words, they’re trained to come to the table with a perspective and to attempt to get the prospect to share the same perspective.
Sellers are armed with biases hoping to have conversations that get buyers to see things their way. Sharon Drew refers to these kinds of conversations as “restricted conversations”—restricted because sellers use “listening filters” that often prejudice the interaction.
Instead, sellers should think of themselves as facilitators helping buyers reach their own truth. Sharon Drew found the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, (the different ways our brains filter what’s been said, and how to supersede our brain to hear accurately), to be so interesting and important, that she wrote a book on the subject called “What? Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard?” You can get 2 free chapters here.
What motivated me to write this post, was reading yet another of her newsletters filled with aha moments (all based on her book, and 30 years of experience). Here’s an excerpt from the newsletter which describes three causes of listening filters and how to avoid them.
By listening specifically for elements of the stated issues – problems, hopes, missing skills or motivation –facilitators merely hear what they can recognize as missing. If the context is unique, if there are unspoken or omitted bits, if there are patterns that should be noticed, if there are unstated historic – or subconscious – reasons behind the current situation, facilitators may not find them in a timely way (if at all), causing the interaction to begin in the wrong place, with the wrong timing and potentially not even discovering the crux of the problem, creating mistrust with the client.
If the person facilitating has had somewhat similar discussions, it’s possible that s/he will make faulty assumptions or guesses based on their history that do not take into account the client’s specific, historic, unconscious, and certainly idiosyncratic challenges.
The facilitator may enter the conversation with many prepared ways of handling similar situations and may miss the unique issues, patterns, and unspoken foundation that may hold the key to success.
As she says, “Prospects are those who will buy, not those who should buy. Enter each call to form a collaboration in which together you can hear each other and become creative. Stop trying to qualify in terms of what you sell. You’re missing opportunities and limiting what’s possible.”
You might argue that Sharon Drew has her own biases. She does, after-all, work hard to see things from the buyer’s perspective. But that’s in good part, why I find her writing so interesting and important.
In the meantime, try going into your next sales call without any sort of biases or assumptions. Biases filter out whatever the brain doesn’t want to acknowledge. In Sales, we call this listening with “happy ears.” Instead, go to the meeting with the goal of having a productive, unfiltered conversation and nothing more. See what happens.