In the modern landscape of business-to-business sales, sales teams are navigating an increasingly complex and evolving environment. Market shifts, artificial intelligence (AI), rapid changes and global uncertainties have led to a highly competitive setting.
Today, deals are taking 20% longer to close on average, which significantly impacts revenue and growth.
A key contributor to this extended sales cycle is customer indecision. It is estimated that 40% to 60% of deals today end up in a stalemate, with no decision being made.
If you’re selling, your biggest competitor is the status quo. To manoeuvre through this challenge, it's crucial to understand and address the root causes of customer indecision.
Customers' hesitations typically stem from three main concerns:
- Fear of choosing the wrong option.
- Concern over inadequate research.
- Worry about not receiving the value they're paying for.
People tend to feel more regret when negative outcomes result from their actions (commission bias) rather than from their inactions (omission bias). This often leads customers to avoid making decisions that may result in mistakes.
To overcome this indecision, sales teams need a systematic approach:
Evaluate decision-making ability
The first step is to assess not only the customer's ability to buy but also their ability to decide. This involves recognising the three main sources of customer indecision: valuation problems, lack of information, and outcome uncertainty.
Provide clear recommendations
Instead of simply determining the customer's needs, sales teams should offer clear and specific recommendations. Customers who are indecisive are seeking guidance rather than a plethora of choices.
Control information flow
Sales teams must manage the flow of information, anticipating needs, addressing unstated objections, and being straightforward when customers request excessive information. This approach prevents customers from becoming overwhelmed and keeps the sales process on track. Having too many solution options leads to analysis paralysis.
The final step is to alleviate the customer's fears about potential losses. This can be achieved by offering creative solutions that limit downside risk, such as flexible contracts, refund policies, and additional support services. The goal is to reassure the customer that they won't fail by purchasing your solution and that you will be in their corner if things ever go wrong.
Small wins over big losses
It’s far better to get a small win with a new customer rather than missing out on the deal entirely because your team tried to sell everything on day one. It’s far better to play the long game. It may seem counterintuitive, but in the long run, guiding your customer to the smaller, lower-investment solution at first will lead to faster decision making and, over time, larger spend.
In the ever-changing world of business-to-business (B2B) sales, understanding and addressing customer indecision is pivotal in shortening sales cycles and improving deal-closure rates.
By adopting a systematic approach to overcome indecision, sales teams can better navigate the B2B sales environment, leading to consistent growth.
In the current economic climate, levelling up our approach to sales is key, now more than ever.
The key to long-term success in B2B sales is not just making a sale, but fostering strong, lasting relationships that lead to repeat business and customer loyalty.
It's about playing the long game and being patient, understanding, and strategic in your approach.
As sales cycles continue to lengthen, it's time to turn this challenge into an opportunity, paving the way for a strong 2023.