The Worst Reason to Lose a Sale, and How to Stop It

You commit an enormous amount of effort to the sales process – from product development and trials to the final pitch. It’s no wonder you’re disappointed when a deal doesn’t close. And sometimes the reason for losing a sale isn’t because a competitor beat you to it, but rather, because your prospective customer simply didn’t make a decision at all.

As disappointing as it is, losing a sale to the competition can at least teach you something. You’re able to assess what they’re doing differently and perhaps learn how to better appeal to your target demographic. But losing out to consumer indecision simply leaves you with a mystery. What did you do wrong, and how can you correct it?

You might feel tempted to double down on your sales approach. You’re inclined to increase your “fear of missing out” language or incorporate more pressure in your scripts. You work even harder to convince the consumer that they have a problem and that your product can solve it. But research shows that dialing up these sales tactics probably won’t help and might even hurt your strategy.

That’s because for many consumers, indecision is even more powerful than a preference for the status quo. You’re not trying to convince them to stop doing things the old way and do things your way; you’re trying to convince them to decide anything at all.

The fear of making a mistake that leads to loss is more powerful than the fear of missing out on something better. And because this fear is mostly unconscious, most of your target audience isn’t aware of it and cannot communicate it to salespeople.

Even more concerning: Your traditional playbook of sales tactics can actually make consumer indecision worse.

But we do have some good news. A method with the acronym “JOLT” has proven successful at jarring consumers out of their indecision and helping guide them toward taking action.

“J” stands for “judge the level of consumer indecision”. The first step is to identify how indecisive a particular sales lead is feeling. With mild to moderate indecision, sales reps can proceed while knowing the final deal is a bit farther away. But when indecision levels are high, the salesperson knows to walk away and spend their resources on a lead more likely to commit.

“O” stands for “offering a recommendation.” The salesperson identifies what the consumer needs and tells them what they need, rather than offering a plethora of choices that only lead to confusion and doubt.

“L” stands for “limit the exploration.” Contrary to what you might have previously believed, too much information only serves to create more confusion for many consumers. High-performing sales reps avoid indulging the consumer with too much information, instead only offering what they feel is relevant to the situation. They demonstrate their expertise and guide the conversation, rather than answering endless questions that go nowhere.

“T” stands for “take risk off the table.” This step of the process addresses the consumer’s fear of risk, via warranties, opt-out clauses, or other contractual assurances that the deal can’t go sour for the buyer.

This method has proven to be successful in more than half (57 percent) of all sales pitches to moderate- or high-indecision consumers, versus a success rate of only 26 percent when traditional sales tactics are utilized.

Consumer indecision will always exist, and in fact will probably increase in prevalence due to the overwhelming amount of information and options available at our fingertips. Talk to us about how we have helped close deals and address this problem by training your sales reps in this method. Protect your future profits against a growing climate of information overload and consumer fear.




Picture of Michael Kimball, Esq.

Michael Kimball, Esq.

Mike Kimball offers practical, timely, and economical legal solutions that move projects along and allow you to focus more on your core business objectives. He has years of experience partnering with companies ranging from Silicon Valley startups to firms in aerospace, biotech, construction, and many more. Mike’s in-house experience includes Yahoo!, Krux Digital (acquired by Salesforce), and Commerce One. He has worked on transactions with Eurostar, Red Bull, Major League Baseball, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Liveramp, Amazon, and NASCAR.