Three Ways to Overcome Your Prospect’s “No” Decision

Blog103_ProspectsResistanttoChangeYou’ve heard it before. “I’m not ready to make a decision,” says your prospect. Well, that’s the same as a no decision, the highest hurdle to clear in sales performance.

As the salesperson, you’ve identified a key problem for a prospect. You helped him to feel the pain of this problem. He even admits to the problem and thinks it could be solved by your solution. Sales Benchmark Index indicates that nearly 60 percent of all qualified sales pipeline opportunities end up in a “no decision.” How frustrating is this?

Enough to solve it?  Read on for a solid solution.

When you get a no decision, you’ve hit a critical point in the prospect’s decision making process. Of course, to fix a problem could mean avoid it in the minds of prospects. No matter how well you see your solution fixing their situation, the prospect must see a vision for the solution and need to change status quo. Even if your prospect in some way dissatisfied with the status quo, it’s safe. It’s known. There may be a problem with it, but the company has adapted to it, and business has gone on.

The buyer may even tell you that he wants to change and that he’s ready to change, but when it comes right down to it, as we said earlier, 60 percent of those prospects won’t change. At least not yet.

Arguably, the majority of the prospects you encounter are still trying to decide whether they are willing to make a change, not whether they prefer you or a competitor. When it comes down to it, many of them will postpone their decision or decide that something else more urgently needs fixing. Even if you think this prospect is totally aware of the need, you have to reinforce it by understanding his concept or vision for the solution.

Why Prospects Resist Change

The fundamental reason prospects resist change is that they do not see, hear or sense a compelling reason to change.

Here’s a good home grown example: people still using AOL e-mail. They’re paying for a service that they could get for free, yet they continue to use and pay for this service. Why? The solution or alternative is free. Switching to a new e-mail requires change and may be a little scary. They have to do things a little different and notify everyone that they have a new e-mail address, and could lose stored files and e-mail. And they may not feel they can get the same level of service for free, so they keep paying. I know this, as my wife is on AOL. She even researched other alternatives a few times, but she has never finished making a decision to change.

There are three ways you can overcome prospect resistance and convince him that your solution is the ideal one.

First, begin asking yourself a question. Is this the ideal prospect for your solution? You need to ensure your organization and the prospect have the right strategic fit. If you are unsure, spend some time defining your ideal prospect profile. You could be wasting time on the wrong prospect.

Next, you need to understand the prospect’s needs and must understand his own needs. Clear understanding only happens when you ask the right questions. Then, the prospect becomes more aware of his needs. He self-discovers through good questioning.

You also must understand the prospect’s pains and its intensity to determine his motivation to change. What is he trying to fix, accomplish or avoid, and what happens if he does nothing? At this stage, you need to develop the prospect’s concept or vision for a solution.

Too many sales people are already trying to connect their solution before they have the concept clear. It’s more than just connecting your product or service to the prospect’s problem. It’s about the why.  Don’t get into why your solution is so great; it’s not even about your product yet. It’s about your concern for the prospect’s business and how it’s in danger if the company stays where it is, facing the challenges, threats, changes, problems and other issues. It’s about what they are trying to fix, accomplish or avoid.

I heard a good example of this this week from Bryon Matthews, president of MHI Global. Bryon gave our colleague Rob West credit for the example.

Blog103_ProspectsResistanttoChange-2A man walks into a hardware store and says, “I want to buy a hammer.”

The salesperson asks, “Why do you want a hammer.” Where the man responds, “Obviously, I’m trying to hit a nail.”

Salesperson:  “Why do you need to hit a nail?” Man: “Because I am trying to hang a picture on a wall.”

Salesperson: “Tell me more about hanging the picture on the wall.” Man: “Well, we just renovated our main floor bathroom, and I want to surprise my wife with the remodel because it’s our anniversary this week.”

Now, this man didn’t walk into the hardware store to buy a hammer; that wasn’t the need. The need was he wants to be a better husband and please his wife on their anniversary. It is his concept or vision for a solution to hang the picture. It’s the why. When you understand the why, you will have a better understanding of how to connect your solution.

Helping the prospect establish his buying vision or concept is critical to closing complex sales. In a recent study by Forrester Research, 74 percent of executives indicated that they give their business to the company that establishes the buying vision. In other words, they choose to work with the company that helps them see clearly the need to change and helps them clarify their needs and solution requirements. That means that only 26 percent rely on a competitive comparison or true “bake off” to choose their winners.

These positions are further reinforced by MHI Global’s 2015 Sales Best Practice Study. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of world-class sales organizations responded to the behaviorial question, “We know why our customers buy from us,” versus seventy percent (70%) of all respondents. Please download the study above.

And third, you need to present the prospects with a compelling reason to change. If you are in front of the right prospect, and he is painfully aware of his needs, present a solution to help alleviate his pain and satisfy his needs.

Successful salespeople bridge the gap between their prospect’s current solution and their ideal solution by satisfying his need and alleviating his pain. They do that in a collaborative process helping the prospect analyze other alternatives, as well. This critical juncture is where you align your solution by showing the prospect that your company has specific solutions for the problems you identified within the status quo.

See you on the upside,


For more information on how to simplify the complex sale, go to
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

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