How Sellers Can Overcome Customer Indecision

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In enablement, practitioners are often told that change is the only constant, and for revenue teams today, that could not ring more true. As many sellers may have already noticed, no-decision losses, when prospects don’t buy a solution and go radio silent, are rising as a result of the current economic downturn.

“Forty to 60% of all deals are lost to ‘no decision,’” said Matt Dixon, author of “The JOLT Effect” and “The Challenger Sale.” “These are customers who have gone through virtually the entire purchase journey – they’ve done exploratory calls, needs-assessment calls, they’ve done demos, they’ve done pilots – and they ghost us. This is a huge loss for the salesperson, a massive loss for the sales team, and a ginormous loss for the sales organization.”

In sales, there is often a focus on beating the competition, which although important, is far less common than losing a deal to no decision. How sellers deal with buyers’ “cold feet” moments can influence the outcome of deals just as much as competitive action. While generating demand and landing more leads is an essential part of the sales cycle, moving existing opportunities forward is a critical component of building momentum and growing revenue.

Enablement can help prepare sellers to address customer uncertainty by training and coaching them with the skills needed to develop confident, successful buyers. When sellers focus on building buyer confidence instead of driving urgency and fear, they have greater success with indecisive customers. By understanding why no-decision losses occur and using trust-building strategies to mitigate them, enablement can help sellers provide value to even the most uncertain buyers.

Why Does the ‘No-Decision’ Loss Occur?

No two customers are the same, so customer indecision can be caused by a myriad of factors. Buyers can begin to feel uneasy when there are too many options, too much information, too much risk, and outcome uncertainty. As vendors race to put out more product offerings and sellers send more content, these indecision factors can become even stronger.

At the beginning of a buyer’s journey, sellers aim to have their prospects agree to change a status quo of some kind. Sellers are often told that the reason that no-decision losses happen is because they haven’t sufficiently changed their buyer’s mind about the status quo; either the customer doesn’t believe that what they’re currently doing is that bad or they don’t believe that the seller’s solution is a more compelling alternative. As a result, sellers may try to sway customers to purchase by rearticulating the value of their solution or dialing up fear, uncertainty, and doubt that the customer is facing.

Unfortunately, this strategy tends to backfire. Scaring a buyer doesn’t work when they’re already scared: scared of taking on risk, scared that they won’t achieve their intended outcomes, and scared of the consequences of failing at a large scale. If buyers face uncertainty and fear when it’s time to move from intention to action, deals can fall apart, so it’s important to equip sellers with strategies to reassure hesitant prospects.

“One of the most important things is just teaching [sellers] to hit the pause button,” said Dixon. “Before you start dangling the discount or creating the burning platform, think about what might be going on that’s giving this customer pause and let’s have a conversation about it.”

By opening the floor to a conversation about potential doubts, sellers can handle potential objections, personalize the buying experience to the buyer’s unique needs, and build trust. When a salesperson fails to slow down when dealing with an indecisive prospect, they risk missing an opportunity to mitigate doubts.

Enablement can train and coach reps to handle indecisive customers with care, rather than inducing more worry. When sellers are equipped with the skills to build trust and buyer confidence, they are more likely to win deals and create satisfied customers.

Detect Indecision Through Active Listening

Before a salesperson can mitigate customer indecision, they need to be able to detect it. Determining a prospect’s level of indecision is a skill that takes practice and coaching from enablement.

To understand a prospect’s level of indecision, first assess their ability to buy. This includes evaluating their use case, fit, and financials. If the customer aligns on these dimensions, then assess their ability to decide. There may be early signs of indecision such as contextual factors or budget scrutiny that reps can navigate by understanding and preparing for them early in the sales process.

Practicing active listening can help sellers slow down and assess how confident a prospect feels. By addressing what they think the customer may be worried about, getting it out in the open, listening, and having a conversation about it, reps can create an environment where the prospect feels safe discussing their potential worries.

“What salespeople have to do is really remember that ultimately, we’re in a human-to-human type business,” said Malvina EL-Sayegh, director of sales enablement at Reachdesk. “What salespeople really have to do is just take a step back, listen, and actively listen, which is challenging in itself. They need to really take a step back and remember that we’re dealing with other individuals. For them, buying is just as challenging as selling is for us.”

Additionally, high performers tend to listen to signs of implicit non-acceptance in sales conversations. Unsure verbal or nonverbal body language can hint at reluctance. If a customer sounds unconfident or not fully convinced, reps can pause and address it to help buyers move forward enthusiastically.

By creating the space for open and honest dialogue, reps can effectively address prospects’ concerns, build trust, and get some tough deals unstuck from the pipeline.

Offer Recommendations

At some point, buyers must make decisions as they progress through the sale cycle. Too often, when customers decide what their business needs, salespeople may fail to offer a clear recommendation. When this happens, salespeople reiterate the customer’s problem or opportunity, then rely on the customer to decide what best fits their needs. This is the equivalent of a waiter or waitress being asked what their restaurant’s best dish is and answering, “Well, what do you want to eat?” It leaves the customer without actionable insight.

“The best salespeople shift from asking to telling. They chalk the field, and they make a
recommendation,” said Dixon. “This is a very powerful effect: the conversion rate difference between diagnosis alone and diagnosis with a recommendation is something like 160%. It’s a massive difference.”

Empowering reps to act as an advisor can be a powerful tool to drive customer confidence. When reps demonstrate competency in this skill, they can more effectively build trust. For example, rather than relying on subject matter experts (SMEs) to thoroughly explain product details, great salespeople will lead the conversation and rely only on SMEs when they can discuss relevant information more clearly or concisely. By providing sellers with high-quality product and service content and contextual guidance on how to leverage those resources, enablement can equip them with the tools to be a competent advisor.

Give the Right Amount of Relevant Information

When prospects are considering a large potential purchase, they want to feel informed and confident. There comes a point, however, when customers engage in seemingly endless searches and end up with analysis paralysis. When customers engage in too much independent search, they risk becoming overwhelmed.

Supplying prospective customers with selective, relevant, and personalized content can help build trust and supply customers with the right information. This demonstrates that the salesperson has sold to similar customers, knows what the customer is worried about, and builds the sense that the customer is talking to a SME.

“When working with customers, the more that you can frame things to them through the story of customers similar to them, the more apt they are to trust us as experts and follow our advice to have a better experience,” said Renée Osgood, customer success enablement manager at Matillion.

One way that enablement can help salespeople create seamless, personalized buying experiences is through the use of digital sales rooms. Acting as a dynamic landing page, digital sales rooms allow reps to curate specific content and resources that are relevant to the buyer that they can access throughout the deal to stay aligned. The amount of information needed differs from customer to customer, so it can be helpful to train and coach reps on detecting indecision and providing the right amount of information to mitigate it.

In the rapidly changing business landscape today, it is more important than ever that reps are effectively equipped to address buyer indecision. Especially amid economic headwinds, reps need to build buyer confidence and overcome doubt and hesitation.

When sellers have the training, coaching, and enablement resources they need to detect indecision and identify solution-oriented recommendations, they can empower prospects and customers to make buying decisions more confidently. Sellers can build trust by developing customer-centric communication skills, active listening abilities, comprehensive recommendations, and personalization techniques to deliver lasting results.

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