Account Executive

May 22, 2023

The JOLT Framework: Navigating Buyer Indecision

“To buy or not to buy…that is the question”

In sales, we’re always worried about what our competition is up to.

Especially in deals where you’re pitted against one another.

But instead of fighting the enemy you know, you should focus on the enemy you don’t:

Buyer indecision or no decision

More often than not, buyers choose to do nothing rather than pick between competitors.

Overcoming “cold feet” is the difference between average reps & quota-smashing ones.

Seller Beware

Most buyers would describe themselves as highly decisive.

But Matthew Dixon & Ted McKenna (The JOLT Effect) found the opposite in their sales meeting recording research:

  • 87% of opportunities had moderate or high levels of buyer indecision
  • At just 13%, decisive buyers were actually a rare find
"Nowhere to hide" Matthew Dixon & Ted McKenna (The JOLT Effect)
Matthew Dixon & Ted McKenna (The JOLT Effect)

“Skip the fancy math & get down to brass tacks.”

You can’t disqualify your way out of indecisive buyers…you’ll never hit quota.

So it’s let’s win ‘em over instead.

💡Pro Tip💡: Want to find indecision opportunities in your sales meetings? Check out Pickle!

Why We Lose to “No Decision”

There are two main culprits for why buyers decide to do nothing:

Preference for Status Quo

“It’s not broken enough to fix.”

The buyer is comfortable where things are & don’t see enough value to make a change.

Fear of Failure

“I’m okay with missing out. But I’m not okay with messing up.”

This is the most frequent driver of no decision outcomes.

Buyers don't typically get fired for keeping things the same.

They get fired for changing a process that leads to disruption and lost revenue.

Compound this feeling across multiple stakeholders & you’ve got your work cut out for you.

3 Sources of Indecision

During a deal’s closing stages, you will hear something like, “I’m overwhelmed.”

While a small droplet of a phrase in the ocean of a half-hour meeting…

It’s actually a hot doorknob telling you there's probably fire on the other side of this wall.

Time to diagnose what those two words could mean, as any high-performer would.

1. Too much information

“I don’t know who to go with.”

They’ve taken too many demos with too many competitors. Features blur together.

The safest choice in the face of picking wrong is to pick nothing.

2. Lack of information

“I haven't done enough research yet.”

They feel they haven’t taken enough demos or need to read more G2 reviews.

Like chasing the white whale, the answer to their problems lies in the next white paper.

3. Outcome uncertainty

“Not sure I can swing that price.”

Afraid they won’t see a return on their investment.

They have enough info, but not confident it will solve their problem.

The JOLT Effect

So we’ve identified the source of indecision…now what?

Enter the sweet acronym from Dixon & McKenna: J.O.L.T.

J - Judge the Level of Indecision

You can assume there’s always some hint of indecision, but how deep is it?

Send out a signal or trial balloon & see what comes back.

“A lot of our customers were worried about (insert objection). Don’t want to assume you are too, but if it is, we should talk through it.”

This gives them confidence they’re not alone in this feeling & it’s cool to talk about it.

Worst case, you get a “No, not worried about that. But I am actually concerned with…”

Now you can work through it together.

O - Offer your Recommendation

If the buyer falls into the “Too much information” bucket. It’s time to be the expert.

High performers steer the conversation to a smaller set of options & make a recommendation.

L - Limit the Exploration

The most dangerous spot for a seller is the “Lack of information” bucket.

Hearing things like “Can I see the demo one more time” may seem like progress. But it’s a trap.

Classic analysis paralysis.

They’re unsure of the right decision, so they want to be the expert on your product.

Somewhere along the way, you lost their trust. You’ve gotta build it back any way you can.

T - Take Risk Off the Table

Finally, you might hit uncertainty about the outcome you’re selling.

You'll hear: “We’re interested in moving forward, but we need a free month.”

Getting to real negotiation is huge & you’ve earned it.

But high performers ask for something in return (within the bounds of what they can do).

Remove the risk for the buyer with a paid trial & a 30-day money-back guarantee.

They get the safety net needed to get the deal across & you avoid giving away free product.

Win-win for everyone.

Back to the Objections menu

Next article: Combining Discovery & Demo: Close Deals on the First Call

You'll like these emails 🥒

Pickle writes to their friends every few weeks with spicy tips to make their wall-to-wall meetings suck less.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.