No More No-Decisions in Sales
The soul-crushing experience of telling your sales manager that the deal you were so confident would close is now a no-decision is a bitter pill for sales reps to swallow. The opportunity that started off so positively and was looking like a win is now a ghost account that will not return calls or emails. As sales professionals, we rack our brains trying to figure out what we did wrong. We followed the sales process, we qualified the buyer, and uncovered a legitimate need. Yet still, we ended up with a no-decision. In this article, we will explore the dreaded no decision and what sales reps can do to prevent this soul-crushing experience in the first place.
Curious but Not Committed
If you were going to remove unqualified prospects from your pipeline, when would be the best time to do it? At the very beginning of the sales process or at the very end? The hard truth of selling is that it is better to get a “no” early, so you don’t delay connecting with someone who will say “yes.” There is one commonality among high-performing sales reps. They have the ability to identify early who the real prospects are, from those who may be curious but not committed. On the other hand, average sales reps over-invest too much time chasing prospects who never make a purchase decision.
The curious but not committed prospect can be a sales energy vampire, draining the life out of the most motivated sales reps. For average sales reps, the curious but not committed appear to be genuine opportunities and create a false sense of security. When the sales rep is overly optimistic and sends a proposal to the curious but not committed prospect, they are inadvertently extending the sales cycle. The common symptom of this sales challenge is a sales rep who is working harder than everyone else but still not obtaining quota. If you desire to be the top-performing sales rep at your company or the leading company in your industry, learning how to move curious prospects to committed clients is the key.
The Essence of Sales
As a sale professional how would you finish this statement? “My job is to ______.”
- Close the deal
- Build relationships & trust
- Challenge prospects thinking
- Serve my customers
In sales, there is no single right answer as long as you do not cajole your customers into buying. The essence of sales is about communication. Can there be one best way to communicate? The sales methodology that works best is the one where the sales professional stays in control of the sales process. Control is not a bad word. In the context of the sales process, it means you are disciplined enough to stick to a plan, not manipulate your prospects. Sales reps that lose control are unable to guide prospects through the sales process and end up hoping that the prospect sells themselves.
Unfortunately, conventional sales reps are most comfortable allowing prospects to control the sales process. This is doing a disservice to the prospect. If they knew what they really needed, would they still be in the research phase? Sales reps who want unconventional results have to be willing to be unconventional in their communication with prospects. It is nearly impossible for a sales rep to outperform the competition by adhering to the conventional. We all think we are exceptional rather than average. Even below-average sales reps and sales managers do not think of themselves as average. To be truly exceptional, sales performance has to be better than what was anticipated.
Let Me Think About It
Two common replies that a sales rep consistently hears from prospects are, “Let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you.” Having worked with hundreds of organizations, we have yet to see a “Let me think about it” stage in a sales process. Yet it’s a conversation that sales reps have every day. It typically goes like this:
Prospect: Thanks for the information. You’ve given us a lot to think about. Let me get with my team and we’ll get back to you.
Sales Rep: Great, will next week work for you?
Prospect: That should be fine.
After which the sales rep never hears from the prospect again. The “let me think about it” is often a polite rejection. But instead of the sales rep uncovering the truth and moving on, they pursue this account with optimistic emails, voicemails, and LinkedIn follow-ups. For average sales reps, most of their follow-up activities are with prospects who have politely rejected yet continued to be pursued while holding onto false hope.
Mutual Agreement Solves No-Decisions
A few years ago, I wrote an article on How to Prevent Your B2B Sale From Being Stuck in “No Decision” Limbo which covered the basic causes of no-decisions and how to create a business case for the prospect to move forward. Now, I would like to provide further advice to help sales reps maintain control while moving the sales process forward.
One of the most effective ways to prevent no-decisions as a sales outcome is to establish mutual agreement during the sales call. Both parties should agree on how the call will go (agenda) and agree to next steps at the conclusion of the call. These two points of gaining agreement are critical to maintaining control and momentum. When sales reps do this, no-decisions can be significantly reduced.
The highest performing sales reps know that gaining agreement at critical points help squeeze the waste out of their pipeline. If the average sales rep has 25 percent of their deals in no-decision limbo, removing them would be like adding three months of selling per year. Clearly an opportunity to address.
Selling is likely to not get any easier in the next six months. Inflation and increased competition are creating real headwinds for sellers and their organizations. Reducing no-decisions from the sales process can combat stalled sales and restart sales growth. When sales reps maintain control of the sales process and obtain next-step commitments in each sales conversation, they can significantly reduce no-decisions.
Interested in learning more about turning curious prospects into committed clients? Let’s talk.
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