Sharon Drew Morgan

Think Out of the Box with Buying Facilitation®

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Sharon Drew Morgan | 0 comments


Think Out of the Box with Buying Facilitation®

There has always been a divergence between how sellers sell and how buyers buy. That problem is the bane of a sales professional’s existence. For decades, I have been closing that gap by training the Buying Facilitation® model I’ve developed to sellers to help buyers facilitate their beginning-to-end buy path – from

• idea, to
• assembling the Buying Decision Team, to
• deciding to make a purchase, to
• choosing a vendor

and help them manage the change they must address before they can purchase anything. My clients have learned to close a lot more business, much faster, regardless of their industries, countries, solutions, and price points.


But it has been struggle for sellers to recognize that the efficacy of their solution, the relationship with the buyer, the strength of their presentation or pitch or pricing is not enough; at the end of the day, a buying decision is a change management problem and the very last thing buyers do – when everything else is aligned – is make a purchase.

Buyers must address behind-the-scenes political, relationship, strategic, and personal issues going on in their status quo before they can return to the seller to commit. And the sales model does not handle this. It’s the length of the sales cycle. It’s why buyers disappear. It’s why sellers sit and wait and hope and keep specious pipelines.

Buying Facilitation® is becoming more accepted these days as the primary vehicle to facilitate the buying decision path as an add-on to sales. There has been an article in Forbes that mentions that the sales model has it wrong by only focusing on solution placement and ignoring the buy path that’s change management based. The Rapid Learning Institute just came out with findings that discuss a gap between buying and selling.

And at the end of the day, it’s becoming just too expensive to maintain a 90%+ failure rate – which is mitigated when Buying Facilitation® brings together the whole Buying Decision Team within 2 calls, or creates conference calls in which the seller can direct the participants to those decisions they must make if they believe change (and a purchase) would create excellence. Using Buying Facilitation® removes those prospects who won’t buy and speeds up those who will. And when Buying Facilitation® gets the right people on board to make the right decisions and gets buy-in, then sellers use their sales skills.


For those of you who want to hear me explain Buying Facilitation® in full, here is an interview I did last week with Willis Turner, head of SMEI, on his blogralkradio. Enjoy it.

For those of you who want to hear me live, join me in beautiful San Juan Puerto Rico as i speak at their Out Of The Box SMEI conference on April 3/4.

For those of you wishing some on-line learning, I’m just completing an on-line learning program and look forward to announcing it. For those of you who wish a Guided Study program, take a look at this.

If you want to read articles about facilitating change, buying decisions, decision making, and listening, please visit My models on decision facilitation and consensus management are well represented there. For those of you who seek a provocative, demanding, annoying, and out-of-the-box keynote speaker, check out’ll find all of the books I’ve written on the topic, as well as training programs.

I’m the visionary in the sales field, given I’ve been teaching sales folks how to facilitate the behind-the-scenes buying decision path since the 1980s. I know it’s taken many in the sales field some time to recognize the necessary decisions buyers must make outside of their purview and the sales model doesn’t handle. But now it’s time. Now it’s time to add Buying Facilitation® to sales and stop waiting for prospects to be buyers; help them manage their decision path. And let me help you help them.

I look forward to connecting.


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Why Your Sales Cycle is So Long (Hint: It’s Not About Your Solution).

Posted by on Mar 11, 2014 in Sharon Drew Morgan | 0 comments

Do you know why it takes so long for a buyer to buy? If the buyer knows they have a need, and they like you and your solution, shouldn’t it be easy?

Yes. It is easy. But not with the sales model alone.


The sales model is meant to place a solution. It was designed for a simpler time in history, when there were fewer solutions, precious few ways of marketing them, no internet or FEDEx to get solutions from China delivered to your front door in two days. It was not designed:

  • to bring together disparate players on a Buying Decision Team,
  • to circumvent many creative solutions that can address a problem besides yours,
  • for a bad global economy.

Sales places solutions. But if it were that easy you would have closed more.

You know those sales where the buyer shows up and buys almost immediately? What’s the difference between them and others who take forever? The difference is they are one of the 80% who will buy a solution within 2 years of working with a solution provider (and left behind a trail of dead sales people) and NOW is their 2 year mark: they have finally discovered and gotten agreement on a route to move forward and all of their ducks are in a row. Their need is defined; the new job descriptions are described, the users are ready, the new material will fit comfortably with the old so as to avoid disruption.

The last thing the buyer does is find a solution. Sales enters at the wrong time, offering the wrong data, to the wrong people. If you do the exact same thing you’re doing now, but after you use Buying Facilitation® to help them navigate through their behind-the-scenes decision path, then you’ll close quickly.


Here are some numbers that my clients (using Buying Facilitation® AND sales) tracked against their control groups:

  • A large insurance company went from 110 visits and 18 closed sales to 27 visits and 25 closed sales.
  • A large tech company selling a small piece of software ($10,000) went from a 6 month sales cycle to a 3 call close.
  • One of the Big 3, with a $50,000,000 solution went from a 3 year sales cycle to a 4 month sales cycle.
  • One of the world’s largest banks went from closing 2% with an 11 month sales cycle , to closing 37.5% in 2 months.
  • One of the well known boutique brokerage houses when from $400 Million to $1.2 Billion in revenue in 4 years.

They did this by become true Trusted Advisors; they used Buying Facilitation® to facilitate the buying decision, and then they sold.

Your sales cycle is long because buyers have to figure out how to get the right people and policies aboard before they can buy. It’s not about your solution. Do you want to sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities. Which do you want to focus on? And how will you know if it’s worth adding something new to what you are doing?


Get a hold of Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it and read it. Then contact us so we can train you.

Learn Buying Facilitation® | Implement Buying Facilitation® | License Buying Facilitation®

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Selling With Integrity

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Sharon Drew Morgan | 0 comments

What, exactly, is selling with integrity? Is it about creating great solutions that make a difference in companies and lives? Or respecting and serving our prospects and clients and employees?
I’d like to talk about what that means for me…and admittedly, I’m a hammer looking for a nail: I’ve written a NYTimes Business Bestseller (now-outdated) on the subject (*Selling with Integrity: reinventing sales through collaboration, respect, and serving). So excuse my rant. But rant I will.


The sales model is designed to place solutions: sellers are trained to understand need, and place a solution accordingly. Arguably, the buyer gets what they need and the seller makes a commission: win/win. But is a win/win?

In my map of the world, the above ends up as a net loss. Here’s why: because the sales model merely enters at the solution placement end of the buying decision path, it avoids and ignores the entire path buyers must traverse to enlist the right people, manage the change, and ensure system stability as they attempt to discover their best solution options. Therefore, sellers just come in at the end (or come in far too early with this data at the beginning) to offer a solution, and do not have the skill set to facilitate the back-end change management journey, leaving buyers floundering, trying to get the right people on board, and get the right agreements.

Ultimately, using the sales process without Buying Facilitation® (which manages the change management end of the buying decision journey), sellers end up closing only those buyers who show up with all of their ducks in a row (about 7%) – the low hanging fruit.

Indeed, if all of that needs assessment and relationship building and getting-past-the-gatekeeper stuff worked, we’d be closing a lot more sales. And buyers would be getting their needs met much faster: the time it takes them to figure out how to manage the backend change is the length of the sales cycle.

So by not helping manage the change and the behind-the-scenes decision path – very different from solution-focused/choice activities – we are actually harming buyers: with no help, it takes them longer than necessary to determine the folks to include in defining a solution, or figure out how to manage the change so there is no disruption, or how to get the necessary buy-in, to purchase our solution.

Net net, it obviously harms us also by elongating the sales cycle…not to mention we can’t close those prospects who can’t figure it all out.


The industry standard says that 80% of our prospects will buy a similar solution as ours within 2 years of us speaking with them. That means: they’ve got the need, but don’t know how to get their ducks in a row to buy. And we didn’t know how to help them figure out how to do it sooner.

Buyers don’t want to buy. They want to resolve a business problem. If they must make a purchase, they must make sure there is appropriate buy-in from the people and rules and and and…

Sellers tend to think in terms of placing a solution. Buyers think of avoiding chaos. We forget that 90% of the decision issues buyers must address before they get to the solution choice stage is based on creating an environment that will accept and adopt a new solution. The last thing they consider is making a purchase.

In my humble opinion 🙂 without helping buyers manage their change –

  • getting the right folks onto the Buying Decision Team,
  • finding and listening to the voices of those who will ultimately touch the new solution,
  • making sure the old and new meld –

we are not in integrity with our buyers, but merely serving our product sale.

Here is the question: are you willing to go outside of your sales thinking, and start considering helping buyers manage their behind-the-scenes, non-solution-related change management issues? It’s the Buying Facilitation® process, of course, and not sales. But between the two models, we can truly sell with integrity.


*For those wishing a more complete, updated introduction to how buyers buy, the buying decision process, and the system that buyers live in, please read: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.


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Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Sharon Drew Morgan | 0 comments

This article is an excerpt from Sharon Drew Morgen’s new book “Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard?” coming out in late 2014 with AMACOM.  Look for it in bookstores.


Like most of us, I assume I understand what my communication partner is saying and respond appropriately. I don’t think about it; I just do it. I don’t realize anything is wrong until it’s too late. But why do I make that assumption? I was never taught how to hear what others meant to convey.

From kindergarten through university, there are no programs taught on how to accurately hear what others intend to convey or how to make adjustments if there is a breakdown. Current Active Listening models don’t go far enough into the problems of misinterpretation: how, exactly, do our brains make it so difficult for us to avoid biasing what it hears? And what’s the cost to us in terms of relationships, creativity, and corporate success?




Our listening skills seem to be largely intuitive: we instinctively know how to listen to music and to listen carefully when getting directions to a wedding. But sometimes we mishear or misinterpret what someone said. Or interpret something incorrectly and adamantly believe we are correct. Or lose a client or friend because we’ve not really heard their underlying message. Sometimes we listen for the wrong thing, or listen only to a part of the message.

Do we even know what listening is? We all recognize it as a core communication skill – core to our lives, our relationships, our ability to earn a living and share ideas and feelings. But how do we do it? And how do we do it right – and know when we are doing it wrong? Who’s to blame when we get it wrong? Are there skills that would enable effective listening in every conversation?

My broad interests and unique professional life have brought me in contact with an extensive range of people and situations. Along the way I’ve had thousands of successful conversations with people from many walks of life and in 63 countries. The conversations I found frustrating were my communication partner’s fault. Or so I’d like to think.

My lifelong curiosity with listening was piqued to the point of finally writing this book when reflecting on a seemingly simple conversation I heard at the tail end of a meditation retreat:

Transportation Guy:  “You can either leave your luggage near the back of the go-cart and we’ll take it down the hill for you, or you can bring it down yourself.”

Woman: “Where should I leave it if I do it myself?”

Transportation Guy: “Just put it in your car.”

Woman: “No… Just tell me where I can leave it off. I want to walk it down myself when I go to the dining room.”

Transportation Guy: “Just put it in your car. I don’t know why you’re not understanding me. Just. Walk. It. Down. And. Put. It. In. Your. Car.”

A simple exchange. Simple words, spoken clearly. Words with universally recognized definitions. Yet those two folks managed to confound and confuse each other, and instead of asking for clarity they assumed the other was being obtuse.

Indeed, it sounded like they were having two different conversations, each with unique assumptions: the man assumed everyone had a car; the woman assumed there was a specific space set aside for suitcases.

The missing piece, of course, was that the woman was being picked up by a friend and didn’t have a car. The transportation guy didn’t ask for the missing piece and the woman didn’t offer it. When they didn’t get the responses they sought, they each got exasperated by the other’s intractability and, most interesting to me, were unable to get curious when confused. Two sets of assumptions, reference points, and world views using the same language. And when the communication broke down both thought they were right.


Because we filter out or fabricate so much of what is being said, we merely hear what our brains want us to hear and ignore, misunderstand, or forget the rest. And then we formulate our responses as if our assumptions were true. Our communications are designed merely to convey our internal assumptions, and how people hear us are based on their internal assumptions.

So it merely seems like we are having conversations. We are not; we are just assuming what we hear means something, leaping to false conclusions based on what our brains choose, and blaming the other person when the communication falters. Surprising we don’t have more misunderstandings than we do.

How humbling to realize that we limit our entire lives – our spouse, friends, work, neighborhood, hobbies – by what our brains are comfortable hearing. We are even held back or elevated in our jobs depending on our ability to communicate across contexts. Our listening skills actually determine our life path. And we never realize how limited our choices are.

Would it be best for us to communicate only with those we already know? Seems the odds of us truly hearing and being heard are slim otherwise: unless the speaker’s intent, shared data, history and beliefs are so similar to ours as to share commonality, the odds of understanding another’s intent – and hence what they are really trying to tell us – are small.

But make no mistake: the way we listen works well-enough. We’ve constructed worlds in which we rarely run into situations that might confound us, and when we do we have an easy out: blame the other person.

What if it’s possible to have choice? In Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard, I break down filters, biases, assumptions and communication patterns to enable every reader to truly hear what their Communication Partner intends them to hear, diminish misinterpretation, and expand creativity, leadership, and management.

Copyright 2013 Sharon Drew Morgen


Sharon Drew Morgen, author of upcoming : “Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard?”,  has developed tools for schools and corporations to assess listening problems, and is designing programs for  schools and corporations to offer collaborative listening skills. Morgen is the developer of a unique decision facilitation model, Buying Facilitation®, which works with sales to help buyers manage their systems-based buy-in process,, as well as a model to facilitate change from the inside out

To contact Sharon Drew to discuss listening assessments for teams or individuals, email:


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What to expect from a keynote speaker

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Sharon Drew Morgan | 0 comments

keynote speakerLike every group who brings in a keynote speaker, your needs are unique. You want someone to motivate your successful team to be even more successful; you want new ideas to excite the imagination of a newly formed team; you want a subject matter expert to incite and inspire a group moving on to new initiatives; you have limited funds and seek a lower-priced speaker who has a good reputation.

Every need requires a different type of speaker, and one speaker – regardless of reputation or success of their book sales – doesn’t fit every situation.

How can you make sure that the needs you have match the capabilities of the speakers you’re considering? After A. getting agreement on the exact criteria you need to meet from the user group leaders and the meeting planners, B. putting together a list of your best guesses of speakers who will meet your goals, C. looking them up on line and watching their videos and culling the best, call them and say:

We’re going to be meeting in (June) of this next year and seek a speaker to (engage our sales winners with new ideas that will promote success). We saw your video and put you on a short list of speakers to consider. I’d like to ask you a few questions:

1. What do you need to know about us and our needs to make sure we have a win-win?
2. How do you engage audiences to incite them to success?
3. What do you expect our takeaways to be?
4. How will you know you’ve succeeded with us? How will we know?
5. Do you recommend the use of Twitter during the talk to enable instantaneous ideas for all to see during the talk?
6. Do you use a Q&A during the keynote? Or do a traditional talk?

Note their replies; collect your impressions and share them with the rest of the group. This will give you a good idea of how to choose the best keynote speaker for your situation. The best for you will be obvious.

Contact Sharon Drew to hire her as your next keynote speaker. | 512-457-0246

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Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Sharon Drew Morgan | 0 comments


Answer these questions to see how accurately you hear what your communication partner intends you to hear, and how much business you are losing as a result.


  1. How often do you enter conversations to hear what you want to hear – and disregard the rest?
  2. How often do you listen to get your own agenda across, regardless of the needs of the speaker?
  3. How often do you have a bias in place before the speaker’s points or agenda are known?
  4. Do you ever assume what the speaker wants from you before s/he states it – whether your assumption is accurate or not?
  5. How often do you listen merely to confirm you are right…and the other person is wrong?
  6. Do you ever enter a conversation without any bias, filters, assumptions, or expectations? What would need to happen for you to enter all conversations with a totally blank slate? Do you have the tools to make that possible?
  7. Because your filters, expectations, biases, and assumptions strongly influence how you hear what’s intended, how do you know that your natural hearing skills enable you to achieve everything you might achieve in a conversation?
  8. How much business have you lost because of your inability to choose the appropriate modality to hear and interpret through?
  9. How many relationships have you lost by driving conversations where you wanted them to be rather than a path of collaboration that would end up someplace surprising?

As I am writing my new book,  Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? I’ve gotten notes from all around the world: everyone thinks they listen accurately. Ah…But do they hear what’s intended?

It’s physiologically impossible to accurately hear what our communication partner intends us to hear. We have biases, filters, triggers, assumptions, and habits that get in the way. And people don’t accurately represent what they mean for us to hear, leaving out details that they assume will be understood and aren’t, or choosing words that have different meanings for listeners. Or the situation we find ourselves in has any range of situational biases that make it difficult. We hear according to our education, family history, religious beliefs, political beliefs, age, ethnicity…..

Are you getting the picture here? Not even close to possible. So what is it we are defending? What is so important about believing we hear what’s intended when we don’t – and it’s not even possible?

My new book will break down the good, the bad, and the ugly of how we hear, why we don’t, where we have problems (lots of assessments and fun exercises), and ways to fix it. Lots of funny examples of just plain dumb conversations between really smart people. And trust me: my snarky personality will lead readers through the process. I can’t wait until it comes out next year.

Contact me with questions about listening. Speak to others about the project. Let’s make ‘hearing what’s intended’ the new buzz phrase. Because if we all can hear what’s intended, we can make a huge difference in the world.

Sharon Drew Morgen | 512-457-0246 |



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