Vault Over No-Decisions to More Revenue

Sales is not an exact science.

The unpredictable, even irrational, human factor element makes sales more art than science, despite the massive amount of data at our fingertips.

That’s why so many CEOs and sales leaders become frustrated when forecasting pipeline accuracy because they must depend on the claims of their salespeople.

Let’s say the CFO wants accurate revenue projections for the quarter. Knowing his salespeople, the sales manager gives his best estimate, despite the overly confident and sandbagger types on his team.

The CFO or CEO reviews those sales opportunities against set criteria and decides whether to add to the revenue forecast. And then?

Jim Dickie from CSO Insights took the data from CSO Insights’ 2016 Sales Performance Optimization Study shows the average outcome of forecasted deals, based on the experience of 675 companies worldwide.

What he found was that 46.6 percent of the time an opportunity ends up in the win column, which means that 53.4 percent of the time, the executives were wrong about the assessment.

Looking at his findings, he found that, 29.6 percent of forecasted deals end up in wins for the competition. Understandably, you cannot win them all. However, the most disturbing metric is the 23.8 percent no-decision rate.

Nearly one-quarter of the forecasted opportunities, even though aggressively pursued, end up with no one winning the deal.

The no-decision may well be many companies’ single, largest competitor. As a result, sales wastes a huge amount of time, energy, resources, and money.

Of course, these percentages are averages. Averages can often hide insights. So CSO Insights took time to look more closely at the data. It needed to know if best practices played a role in those firms rated best-in-class at closing the deals forecasted. And could those practices be learned?

A key finding emerged worth sharing. Companies that invest the time to thoroughly understand their customer’s buying process experience a no-decision rate of 16.9 percent, compared to 23.8 percent overall. That nearly seven percent drop further represents a 29 percent decrease in the number of opportunities that end up on the scrap heap.

When you add the reduced no-decisions to a smaller (still desirable) decrease in competitive losses, these best-in-class firms succeed in achieving an average win rate of 58.7 percent. Brilliant results.

By thoroughly studying the prospect’s buying process, you can begin to restrict the impact of no-decisions. This fact galvanizes my professional belief that salespeople must align their sales processes with how prospects want to buy

CSO Insights provides a detailed methodology for limiting no-decisions which you can find in The CSO’s Guide to Transforming Sales e-book.

If you take the time to follow the steps, you will uncover the business reasons that drive your prospects to begin their buy cycles. You also learn to whom they assign the evaluation/decision-making process; which solution providers make the long and short lists and why; what buying tactics companies undergo and why; what criteria influences decisions to buy/not buy.

Embarking on a sales transformation requires an investment, but you don’t need to rip up the whole sidewalk. Begin by evaluating what’s working and what’s well aligned. Then decide where improvements can and should be made and take action.

I prefer Objective Management Group’s (OMG) process for working through a sales transformation, which assesses strategy, systems, processes, and people.

OMG links no-decisions to salespeople’s DNA and how they sell and buy themselves. “People sell in the same manner as they buy,” contends the firm.

So if a salesperson on your team who delays his own buy decisions or spends considerable time comparing products and services, heading back and forth to the retailer, he will think it’s quite acceptable when a prospect says she wants to think it over.

In my experience, “thinking it over” means no-decision which leads to no-sale.

Is it worth the investment to develop your people, improve your processes, and upgrade your systems?

Well, a 12.1 percentage point increase in win rates of forecasted deals will create an ROI orders of magnitude more than the cost to develop a sales process or methodology.

What would a 12.1 percentage increase in closed deals mean for your organization?

You can do the math. It will put a smile on your face.

See you on the upside,


For more information, 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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