Analyzing B2B No Decision and Indecision - Primary Intelligence


DISSECTING "NO DECISIONS"

FOR PIPELINE REVIVAL IN 2023

In today’s uncertain economic climate, many sales reps may feel like their pipelines are drying up – which means it’s all the more important to source as many warm leads as possible.

One often overlooked option for finding additional leads is returning to deals previously thought to be lost – your “No Decisions.”

This might seem like a waste, but it turns out that almost one-third of the time, sales reps are incorrectly classifying “No Decision” or “Pending” deals as losses in their CRM.

That means that on average, approximately one-third of your losses may be primed for re-engagement. 

In order to effectively reengage and convert these “No Decisions” into wins, it’s essential to fully understand the needs, hopes, and fears of your buyers. But to do this, you need to establish high-trust relationships that allow you to uncover and speak to the drivers of their indecision. In their new book, The JOLT Effect, authors Matthew Dixon and Ted McKenna call this practice “sending out pings” and “listening for echoes.”

Trust is a critical prerequisite because buyers need to feel comfortable to speak candidly about the challenges they face in order for sellers to demonstrate their ability to provide effective support. 

To measure trust in sales relationships, we studied how the buyers ranked sellers as “Trusted Advisor” and how this score correlates to a seller’s performance in other important sales attributes. What we found surprised us, but deeper investigation surfaced some fascinating key learnings. 

What rarely builds high-trust relationships?

SALES & MARKETING COLLATERAL

Often times, the quality of your sales & marketing collateral has no impact on a buyer’s trust in your organization. In some cases, the quality of content and collateral was even inversely correlated with trust! When engaging with a buyer, it’s important to avoid leaning too much on marketing materials as a crutch. While good collateral can be an effective tool, relying too much on assets can create barriers to transparent and honest communication as sellers focus on giving stump speeches rather than speaking to the very specific needs a given buyer might have.

CUSTOMER REFERENCES

Contrary to popular belief, the quality and quantity of customer references isn’t correlated with interpersonal trust. Customer references can generate social proof and establish a baseline level of organizational trust, but that trust doesn’t appear to extend to individual sales reps. 

ENGAGEMENT WITH EXECUTIVES

Another, finding which may run counter to assumptions for some, is that access to executives within the seller’s organization also has no impact on interpersonal or organizational trust. While being able to provide access to executives can be an effective strategy to overcoming some specific buyer doubts, it does not tend to build interpersonal trust. Dixon and McKenna argue that when a sales rep brings in an executive or a subject matter expert (SME), they are creating risk that they will be seen as reliant on outside individuals to enable their effectiveness. It’s incredibly important when involving an executive or SME for a sales rep to consider the tradeoffs between enhancing their organization’s credibility and reducing theirs.

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WHAT ARE THE KEY DRIVERS OF TRUST?

RELEVANT PROOFS OF CONCEPT OR DEMONSTRATION

One important factor in establishing trust is the quality of the original Proof of Concept (POC) or demonstration. Buyers often treat POCs/demos as the first real proof of a seller’s ability to listen and adjust in order to meet their specific needs. Tailoring the POC or demo to specific buyer needs shows both that the seller is listening and able to make changes in order to meet those needs, and can go a long way in establishing trust. Strong POCs and demos can also help to demonstrate that a sales rep is actually capable of affecting change in response to buyer concerns. Finding even marginal opportunities to modify and tailor early engagements with the product can help to build a perception of sales reps as highly capable advocates for buyers. 

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Communication speed, frequency, and quality were also found to be crucial. Effective communication, including reducing barriers to feedback loops, is essential for creating trust. For a buyer to fully trust their sales rep, they need to feel that their questions, concerns, and needs are being responded to with genuine urgency and care.  

HAVING THE RIGHT PEOPLE INVOLVED

Finally, having the right people involved in the sales process is crucial. While relying too heavily on SMEs can have a negative impact on the ability to close deals, involving the proper SMEs at the right time can display wisdom and experience on behalf of the sales rep. Much like a family doctor establishes credibility by knowing when to refer their patient to a specialist, a sales rep can solidify their relationship with a sales rep by knowing exactly who to involve, when to involve them, and why their presence is valuable. As long as sales reps establish themselves as the primary, most relevant source of information for buyers, the use of a supporting cast of SMEs can help to seal the deal and extend existing interpersonal trust to the seller’s organization as a whole. 

RECOMMENDATION

Overall, understanding and addressing the factors that lead to “No Decisions” in the sales process is essential for converting buyer indecision into wins. By focusing on communication, the quality of the demonstration, and having the right people being involved, sales reps can increase their ability to establish trust with buyers and ultimately close more deals. 

To learn more about how to act on “pings and echoes” to save stalling deals, check out The JOLT Effect.

We recommend studying your “No Decisions” through fully-automated No Decision Analysis to first understand your “No Decisions” on a granular level. With this new insight, combined with The JOLT Effect framework, your sales team will be able to help buyers avoid indecision and win more deals in 2023. 

Win-Loss Guide to Winning

Ready to dissect your No Decisions?