goal-250x1871In order for any change to occur – whether it’s a decision to purchase a product, or an implementation to add new technology – whatever touches the ultimate solution must buy-in to the change.

Often our focus is on getting the end-result we think we want. We forget that without buy-in from the necessary  people and policies that maintain the status quo, we face the high cost of the resistance emanating from pushing change into a system that believes that it’s fine, thanks.

I’d like to share a story about how I helped my own tech guys shift their project work and our revenue as a result of having decision facilitation skills. At the end of the day, unless there is a decision – one person at a time – to adopt to, know how to, and be willing to change, there will be resistance and possibly failure.


I owned a body shop/recruitment company to support new technology. We had 43 tech folks going out to client sites as programmers, systems analysts/designers, project managers/leaders.

Within the first months, I began hearing murmurs of annoyance from the folks: “Stupid users.” “We have to spend twice as long redoing what they told us to do!” “Why don’t they get it right when we first talk to them?”

As a test to see what was going on that was creating so much failure and cost (time/money), I called in my head tech guy to design a requirement I’d been complaining about.

Julian’s first question was: “What do you want?” I didn’t know how to respond because 1. I wasn’t a techie and didn’t know how to explain to him in his language; 2. I didn’t have the right description, as it was mostly a picture in my mind. So I responded “I don’t know.” Julian smirked. “This is what I hear from clients. But I know what you want. I’ll take care of it and show you some screens next week.”  We were already in the middle of the problem.

What he created was from his own vantage point, using his own beliefs and limiting assumptions. “This is all wrong,” I said.

Julian’s eyes glazed over. In the UK you don’t tell the MD that she’s a Stupid User. I continued: “Imagine where we’d be now if you had started our conversation with ‘ What would you have if you had all of your wishes and dreams, and a computer could do everything that your brain would like to do?’ With that, I could have I would have ‘designed’ screens and offered colors and made up functionality. That would have been a far better start.


I realized that all of our tech guys needed decision facilitation skills to enable them to

  • recognize how to bring together the appropriate elements to be included in a way that would serve both the strategic AND tactical elements,
  • elicit the right data at the right time so the clients could get their projects completed efficiently,
  • eliminate resistance.

I taught the 43 tech guys my ‘Buying Facilitation® model (a decision facilitation model that is a change management model, independent of  buying or selling). The results were instant, and dramatic.

  • The systems designers were able to elicit the right data and develop the exact right design the first time with no redos.
  • The systems analysts not only understood the tech issues, but were able to understand and address all of the personal/human issues and manage the change and potential resistance issues upfront, before they became a problem.
  • The programmers got the proper information to code the first iteration, with a minimum of changes.
  • The client didn’t need the work to be redone.
  • The clients got to hear/see/feel their vision of success and agree to it before anyone moved ahead with technology.
  • The projects were completed well before time – sometimes 25% sooner – and since we were being paid on a project basis, we made more money and the team was freed up for the next project.
  • The clients trusted us so much that they handed over much of their own programmer’s work to us and were able to take on additional creative projects that they hadn’t planned.
  • With 26 competitors, we captured 11% of the market (even with prices well over 40% higher than everyone…. my nickname was Sharon Drew Blood), and my clients signed sole supplier contracts.
  • Everyone was happy, and I kept all of my employees for 4 years.

In fact, my competition tried to steal my employees; no one budged, regardless of the money that was thrown at them. I made sure they had plenty of personal time off, I took them for darts/beer at the local pub once a month, and I made sure they were happy. Plus I kept them doing what they loved, rather than having to deal with any ‘issues.’

I hired a ‘Make Nice Guy’ (who I also trained) to go make sure everything chugged happily along: if any sort of problem – client concern, project glitch, personality issue, tech malfunction – occured, it was his regardless of time of day. Or he could take the day off.

As a result, I had nothing to do but grow my company. And I was able to exit after under 4 years, with 3 branches in two countries (offices in London, Stuttgart, Hamburg), $5,000,000 revenue (remember this was a start up in 1983, in a huge depression) and a 43% net profit.

Your tech folks and internal consultants need decision facilitation skills in addition to technology skills. Because at the base of it all are humans who resist change, get confused, hang on to turf, and don’t always communicate properly. Let me know if  I can help you design a program for your tech folks or internal consultants: sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

Start the journey to help sellers get the skills they need to manage both ends of the buying decision journey – the off-line political and relational buy-in as well as the solution choice. Read Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it. 

Listen to insights and illustrative examples regarding: what change is and why its fundamentally the same regardless of industry or organization type, what systems are and their role in the change management process.


Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions.

More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512-457-0246.
www.didihearyou.com ; www.sharondrewmorgen.com


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August 24th, 2015

Posted In: Communication, News