When conducting sales pipeline reviews with your team, the last thing you want is a bunch of prospects stuck in no-decision limbo. Sometimes priorities shift, resulting in what seems a no-decision to the seller. This can affect many professional services companies whose offerings can be deprioritized because they don’t support the buyer’s day-to-day operations. For any B2B supplier in any industry with a long sales cycle, this can be incredibly nerve-wracking.
Sometimes customers fully intend to make a decision, but then they decide not to go forward with a project for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes the sales cycle is so long the customer’s situation changes in the middle of the sales process, resulting in new people taking over the project and going in a different direction or even terminating the project. No matter the reason, no-decision outcomes are costly and painful.
No one wants a sales cycle ending in no-decision, and the good news is that you can recognize the signs and take action to potentially preempt this outcome. By asking the right questions, collecting data and analyzing no-decision losses, you can use your sales methodology to move more opportunities to closed-won deals. Read on to discover three ways to recognize when your opportunity might be headed toward no-decision limbo and how to deal with it.
1. Ask Yourself the Right Questions
Start by asking yourself the right questions about engagement early on in the sales process. Some of these questions include:
- What is the goal of this engagement? Is your client aiming to achieve 5 percent growth or 25 percent growth? Is your company a good fit to help them get there?
- What is your buyer’s communication style? How does your buyer interact with a selling organization? How available is your buyer? How cooperative is your buyer? How collaborative is your buyer with you and other stakeholders?
- Does your sales process align with your customer’s path? Are you mapping out what you do in your organization every day to see how it matches up with your buyers’ needs? CSO Insights found in its 2018 Buyer-Seller Preferences Study that roughly half of B2B buyers don’t talk to a seller until they are nearly ready to make a decision because they are already familiar with available product options through their own research. Your sales process should reflect the customer journey of your typical buyer persona.
- Does your service or product have an executive sponsor at the buyer? If your offerings are not directly linked to a company goal or a sponsor with authority, your efforts may result in a no-decision.
Answering these questions early on helps increase your chances of keeping prospects engaged throughout the sales process and getting to a closed-won decision.
2. Collect Data
Keeping track of your buyers’ KPIs is one of the most important things you can do. Offer weekly or monthly training to understand how efficiently your sales team implements your sales methodology. At Miller Heiman Group, we consistently track our indicators and then test them when we win, lose or end with a no-decision. Then we evaluate these scores using Scout, our predictive analytics platform, to see how well leading indicators can reliably predict closed-won rates.
When we consult for our clients on their sales process, we guide them to narrow down which leading indicators are the most reliable to help decide whether to pursue an opportunity.
If you’re not able to collect data, create a methodology-based checklist tailored to your industry. Then use this checklist to score potential opportunities. This method may not be as accurate as using data, but if you’re consistent, it can still give you a good indication of an opportunity’s outcome.
3. Analyze No-Decision Losses to Minimize Future Losses
Painful as they may be, the third step to staying out of no-decision limbo is to analyze your no-decision losses. About 60 percent of your analysis should be internal, according to Mark Grimshaw, who leads the consulting practice at Miller Heiman Group. He advises companies to be introspective and have honest conversations about what happened and why. Connect with everyone involved in the deal to understand the full picture. These open discussions require you to have a no-blame culture and to be inclusive.
Grimshaw advises that the other 40 percent of the analysis should come from an independent organization, who can ask the potential buyer the reasons for their no-decision. These insights will give you valuable guidance for what you can change in the future. At Miller Heiman Group, we perform impact studies to understand how wins or losses affect companies. This tailored solution addresses specific problems and helps companies move forward stronger and smarter than they were before.
Following these three steps can significantly reduce the frequency of sales cycles that end in no-decision and strengthen your sales team’s relationships with buyers. You can achieve this by asking the right questions, collecting data and analyzing no-decision losses.
If you need help implementing these three steps, discover how Miller Heiman Group sales consulting can be the game changer you need on your journey to fewer no-decisions and more sales wins.