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No Decisions Should Rarely Be A Surprise

By Hank Barnes | March 02, 2021 | 0 Comments

Sales Effectiveness and Enablementgo-to-market

As I was preparing this post on a Sunday morning, my LinkedIn feed revealed a new post from my friend Dave Brock on good and bad revenue.  He talks about not just business you can win, but focusing on business where you can help the client achieve the desired results, without creating waves of distraction and angst for your business.    As I read it, it reinforced something we talk about a lot, but bears repeating a lot as well –good revenue starts with focusing on the right opportunities.

And, make no mistake, there are lots of opportunities.   Our most recent research study highlights that the volume of buying activity continues to rise (here is a link to some of the published findings for clients), but with that increased volume also comes more and more no decisions.  Nearly half of all buying efforts result in no decisions–and a planned buying effort (something that was budgeted or part of a strategic initiative) is only slightly less likely to result in a no decision than ad hoc efforts that arise over the course of business.

At this point, vendor teams should never be surprised by a no decision—and should be working to identify the signals from the start of the opportunity.  Going further, marketing can be helping to lay the ground work to fight against no decisions with the right type of content and programs.

What are the biggest causes of no decisions?   Well, in the pandemic, there have been many efforts canceled due to lost budgets or entire initiatives being scrapped or delayed.   But we also did not see a huge increase in no decision rates during the pandemic in contrast to the year before–they basically stayed the same.  So the other causes continue to be a factor.  They are diverse, but not surprising:

The chart above shows that you can’t focus on one thing–but many of them are linked.   When your prospects struggle to understand the potential value–and lack confidence in their ability to achieve it, your opportunity is at risk.   And make no mistake–the competition is not just competitors for the opportunity.  It is the other things that your prospects could be doing.

To combat this requires a simple formula:

  1. Focus on the right opportunities.  Go beyond lip service and truly create rich ideal customer profiles (aka Enterprise Personas – a term I created that is still misunderstood) that look beyond firmographics to rich views of the dynamics of your ideal customer.
  2. Create confidence building materials that don’t just address potential value, but layout the changes needed to capture that value.
  3. Engage with eyes open, look for warning signs on any of these dimensions and prepare plans to address them.    For priority battles, always be looking to connect to key organizational goals and objectives.
  4. Recognize when you are fighting a losing battle and, perhaps after taking a few swings using the ideas above, walk away when the outcome is obvious.

As I’ve said before, no decisions are rarely good for anyone.  They are a tremendous driver or waste for both buying and selling organizations.  They only thing good that comes from them is learning (and many fail to view them as a learning opporutnity.  Don’t let them surprise you.  Ramp up your situational awareness.  The signals are usually clear.

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