• Jeff Day

The Biggest Threat You Don’t Know about That Big Deal



Meet Sally. She’s the top sales producer in her territory until now. After months of nurturing and developing this multi-million dollar program, she finally gets the call she’s been waiting for. The decision communicator lets her know that, despite her best and appreciated efforts, the program has decided to hold off making a decision for the indefinite future. Like many of you, I have lived Sally’s story. Sally and I have both fallen victim to an often overlooked deal killer…indecision. I believe indecision is your biggest threat and greatest opportunity.


Complex selling involves decision-making by more than one party. I’m a student of Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson’s Challenger Sale. Not knowing and understanding who’s making decisions will stop you in your tracks. And not knowing is completely your issue. Nobody is responsible for making sure you know that you are responsible. Understanding how the decision is made will separate you from those unwilling to do the work.


The core of the work you aren’t doing is to connect clearly defined outcomes to real business needs. Indecision is the byproduct of a failed attempt to show why you or your service shine. As a former CEO, I remember a software company sending me a Potato ~ the moniker of the brand. Along with the Sput was an invitation to connect. Catchy and clever, but tragically a waste of my time. Never let marketing or sales gimmicks try to create. Instead, dig in and do your work. Your customer will love you for it.


Here are a few ideas of things you can do right away to become more relevant and fight indecision.

  1. Know your customer's business better than your competition. Find out how they make money and follow the financial line. Where revenue flows…energy and decision-making go.

  2. Teach your customer something they don’t already know. The challenger approach calls this commercial teaching. Use it…it creates constructive tension and, when properly executed, demonstrates the cost of inaction.

  3. Remove your commission from consideration. Let’s face it, you don’t matter in this decision. The trends are not in your favor for future buyers wanting to talk to you. Never, never, never introduce deadlines and timetables that don’t help the customer. We don’t care about your quarter or fiscal year.

  4. Model alternatives to inaction. What does doing nothing yield? What is a variation of your plan? Mild, medium, or spicy? Have you sufficiently shown that standing still in the context of this big decision hurts everyone?

  5. Negotiate inaction. BATNA teaches the premise that the best alternatives to negotiated agreements. What is the WATNA? Worst alternatives? How can you make solving this problem a win?

Collaboration is your friend. When you work together with your customer as a team to fight inaction…you squash indecision. Not making a decision is ultimately a failed campaign that didn’t move the customer. Be honest. And chose to be relevant. That is the person decision-makers need and are thrilled to speak with. As you embrace and understand your customer’s outcomes, great things happen.

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