Modern Selling: How to Avoid Customer Procrastination

March 19, 2024
Six ways to help ensure your sales opportunities are not delayed

This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of Security Business magazine. Don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter if you share it.

One of the negative outcomes of the Internet becoming an integral part of the buying process is that customers feel comfortable delaying projects. Since they can acquire limitless information online, they don’t have to start over next year – they feel like they can simply pick up where they ended.

The result is that salespeople are losing more to indecision than to competition. Here are six ways to avoid having sales opportunities put on the back burner.

Since small mistakes can be viewed as a disaster by a committee...make it less scary to say “yes” by providing references, free trial periods, and proof they will not be burned.

1. Prepare for delays. No matter how experienced a sales professional is, they always seem surprised by indecision. Salespeple must prepare for indecision in the same way they prepare to beat the competition.

2. Know every detail of the buying process. Understanding every step of the buying process will enable salespeople to navigate opportunities and lead customers to action. For example, if you know that one step is a technical review by the IT department, then prepare for obvious objections so that before they bring them up, you can mention it first – along with solutions.

3. Understand their compelling reason to make a decision within the defined time frame. Early in the discovery process, after asking about the timing of a project, be sure to ask about the reasoning behind the time frame. Why do they need to purchase by Nov. 1? What happens if they don’t meet that deadline? What happens to your contacts and other stakeholders if they don’t meet the deadline? Knowing these things will help you understand the significance of the timing for a decision, and the likelihood of a delay.

4. Make sure they understand the solution. Too many salespeople make this complicated. Simply answer “What is it?” and “How does it work?” Comparing your solution to their current situation is easy, and it helps explain a complicated solution simply. If they don’t understand the solution and they cannot easily explain it to their bosses, they will delay.

5. Make it simple to work with your company. Most salespeople don’t have control over the internal bottlenecks of their company. You don’t have to change your company’s complex and unreasonable policies, but you do have to shield your customers – especially the decision-makers – from them as much as possible.

6. Make it less scary to decide. Making a purchasing decision is scary. The old phrase “no one ever got fired for buying from IBM” is more relevant today than ever – except people can easily get fired for buying from IBM today, too. Since decisions are made by committees and most buying processes are exposed to levels above and below the deciding committee, a decision that might have been a small mistake can be viewed as a disaster that justifies termination. To move the decision along, make it less scary to say “yes” by providing references, free trial periods, and proof that they will not be burned by deciding to move forward with your company.

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. Use “Security Business” as a coupon code to receive a 10% lifetime discount at the Vector Firm Academy.  •  (321) 439-3025