The Tyranny of No Decision

Author: 
Sharon Gillenwater

The biggest threat to closing your next big deal may not be the competition. Your biggest threat might be that your customer never makes a decision at all. We call it the tyranny of no decision.

The average enterprise deal has multiple decision makers attached to it and more often than not they don’t reach a consensus. Corporate Visions claims that 60% of enterprise deals – more than half – end in no decision. If you sell into large enterprises, you’re probably nodding your head about now.

 A “no” at least has finality, and you can move on to other great prospects, but indecision only serves to clog your pipeline and steal your time as you continually follow up in an attempt to close a deal that is never going to close.

What can be done? And how do you know when you should move on? Successful sales pros tell us that there are three things you can do to push these deals to completion. They are as follows:

1. Express what indecision will mean.
This is one time when using scare tactics can be appropriate. You’ve already had numerous conversations about business outcomes and how using your product or service will help drive their business initiatives. Now it’s time to tell them about the potential risks of not purchasing your product or service and staying with the status quo. Research shows that people react better to negative implications than positive ones and often – unfortunately – corporate decision makers are largely motivated by fear. Lay out the risks and negative consequences of not making a change.. Often this is the fuel your prospects need to reach consensus and keep your deal moving along.

2. Sell higher within the organization.
If you’re not selling into the C-suite, your deal might be in trouble.  You might ask: “Why do I need to sell into the C-suite? They are not the ones making the buying decisions.” 

First of all, this is not always true. In the IT space specifically, IDC has predicted that by 2016 80% of IT purchasing decisions will be made by senior executives, CMOs, CFOs and CHROs—many of them outside of the traditional IT buying centers. 

Second, even in cases where this is true, having the endorsement of a CXO greatly increases the likelihood that you will close a deal that might otherwise go nowhere. 

It’s really a no-brainer. Engaging CXOs helps you close bigger deals, faster. It also helps you sell deeper into accounts that have been underpenetrated for years. 

3. Create multiple points of penetration
Just because you have a great relationship with one main contact does not mean you shouldn’t cultivate new ones. Your main contact has his or her own agenda, priorities and relationships that can either work to your advantage or disadvantage. While at times internal relationships between your prospect and other members of their organization can work in your favor, they can also be what is holding your deal back. Internal politics play a big role in organizational decisions and can negatively impact the way decision makers perceive you and your solution. 

Don’t make the mistake of assuming your contact can sell your solution to his or her colleagues. Instead, develop relationships with multiple stakeholders and leverage what you know of their relationships with one another, and their individual organizational objectives, to help close the deal.

Find out what’s holding them back.
Stop having the same follow-up conversations with your top prospects over and over again. Ask directly why they can’t pull the trigger. Listen for clues that will help you understand the real reasons your deal is stalled. 

Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients.