Blog post

The Connection Between The Jolt Effect and the Sales Innovation Paradox

By Hank Barnes | November 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

tech buying behavioral insightsgo-to-market

Recently, two folks that I know and admire (full disclosure of bias) each published a book. Matt Dixon (with Ted McKenna) published “The Jolt Effect” and Dr. Howard Dover published “The Sales Innovation Paradox” bringing new ideas and insights to the world of buyers and sellers.   Their messages also connect and align with the research we do at Gartner on the same topic.   A few observations.

The big idea of “The Jolt Effect” is the customer indecision due to a fear of failure (the omission bias) is the biggest driver of delays and no decisions–even more so than a preference for the status quo.   The research approach, analyzing conversations, was modern and thorough.  The prescribed action to combat things gave the book its name.    Bottom line, you have to help customer gain confidence in their ability to change and achieve value.  The series of “JOLT” activities help your teams (sales AND marketing) due just that.

This is totally in line with all of our buying research and the story of regret I’ve been exploring throughout the year.   I can definitely see indecision as a likely contributor to the 7 to 10 months increase in buying cycle time for high regret decisions.   We also see no decisions being much higher in organizations that lack confidence.     In Gartner speak, we encourage a focus on “change enablement” to combat this problem (which captures some of the JOLT elements).

Another interesting element of the book was how it pointed out that most sales strategies, when encountering indecision, are directly the opposite of what should be done.  This reminded me of an old post of mine, “Create Calmness, Clarity, and Confidence – The Anti-FUD,” that questioned those same tactics.   It was nice to see those early ideas validated with some solid research behind it.

Beyond the basics of the tactics, “The Jolt Effect” also touches upon the idea that we can use technology to more and more of the things that don’t work well.   And that connects to Howard’s book.

“The Sales Innovation Paradox” hones in on the reality that even as we get more and more better sales technology, sales productivity is not really increasing.  Instead, we simply automate practices that are not effective in the quest for scale and standardization.   We just want more, more, more (another connection to an earlier blog post).   The essential idea behind the book is that we implement technology without enough forethought and recognition of the changes that are needed to truly get the impact from the technology (hmm, sounds like some indecision may be in our futures).  This is all occurring in a dynamic system where buying and selling practices are colliding and technology on both sides inhibits as much as it helps.

The overriding result:  we are able to do more bad things at scale in the hope that volume will make up for mistakes.    Howard breaks down the need for analyzing processes and systems and adjusting both to truly break free from this paradox.   If we don’t, we’ll be amplifying the factors that drive indecision and see it rearing its ugly head in MARTECH and SALESTECH decisions as budgets get tighter and value expectations grow.

The fundamental message of both books is that we can do better.  And we need to do better.    Change isn’t just about buying some technology.  Change is broader and if we understand it, it gets easier.  The changes suggested by Matt actually reduce the work and angst you have to deal with.   The changes suggested by Howard present an opportunity to scale great performance vs. scale failing strategies.

Both books are must reads, but you might want to read them together to see the connections and opportunities that together they create.




The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Leave a Comment