4 Tips to Overcome Customer Indecision and Land Blockbuster Deals

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Kyle Coleman

SVP Marketing at Clari

Matt Dixon

Founding Partner, DCM Insights

Published: July 19, 2023

The new age of indecision is here. 

For years, sellers were told the #1 driver of no decision losses was…  

Status quo objections. 

To overcome this, many top pros adopted the Challenger sales methodology. 

But the times they are a-changin’. Status quo objections are being edged out by a new culprit that’s driving 56% of no decision losses in today’s market. 

It’s FOMU (Fear of Messing Up). 

And it’s rewriting the rules.

Why FOMU torpedoes deals

To solve a problem, we first need to understand it. 

So, what fuels FOMU? 

It starts with basic human psychology—specifically the inherent biases we all operate with. In this case it’s omission bias

Omission bias is where we prefer inactivity to action, especially if we fear a bad result. In other words, we’d rather sit on a problem than actively try to fix it, because we’re scared of making it worse. 

This is the driver of FOMU. And it’s leading to indecision. 

How does omission bias impact executive decision makers?

Ask an executive whether they fear making a mistake. 

You can pretty much guarantee they’ll say, “no.” They’ll say the reason they’re an executive is their ability to make high-pressure decisions. 

And yet, the data says otherwise. 

Buyers are backing out last-minute, worried about the outcome. They’re slipping to the next quarter or going cold.

In a down market, with pressure mounting, they’d rather take the safe route. 

They’d rather hold off. 

3 reasons buyers hesitate

Let’s go deeper. 

Why are buyers pausing in the moment of truth? What factors are driving their FOMU?

Here are 3 culprits.

Fear of picking the wrong option

Sales pros, especially in the tech industry, love to sell using terms like cutting-edge, innovative, and groundbreaking

This can cast a powerful vision of the future. But it can also leave the buyer wondering: What if this goes sideways? What if we fall flat? No one wants to be on the hook for making a bad call.

So they make the safe choice, which is no decision. 

Fear of hidden information

There’s nothing worse than buyer’s remorse. 

Decision makers don’t want to step in it. So, they second-guess the deal.

Is there something I’m missing? An important needle hidden in the haystack?

Sales pros walk right into this fear. Using the challenger method, with their teams of experts and feature-rich solutions, they trigger the fear of hidden information. 

And the buyer hesitates.

Fear of missed expectations

There’s the vision. Then, there’s reality. 

Buyers are worried the solution won’t perform at the optimal level. That their internal teams won’t be able to capitalize on the purchase or upskill in time. 

Suddenly, the ROI they’ve so carefully calculated goes right out the window. 

And they’re left holding the bag. 

Playbook: How to overcome indecision 

A new problem needs a new solution. 

Tip #1: Judge the indecision

FOMU is hiding beneath the surface. But most executives are too embarrassed or unaware to bring it up. So, where do you start?

The solution: Use the ping and echo system.

Like a ship working to detect a submarine, send a ping out into the water and listen for an echo. You do this by articulating the fear you think the buyer is struggling with. Name their indecision, and do this in a way that makes it sound completely normal. 

  • Recognize the fear
  • Connect this fear to other similar clients
  • Create space to talk it through

When used right, the ping and echo system can equip you with much-needed info to accurately judge the indecision. 

But don’t stop there.

Tip #2: Offer recommendations

Next, high-performing salespeople move into recommendations. 

Here’s the key though: Keep the consideration set narrow

Information overload may be a FOMU driver, so swooping in with a team of experts will only exacerbate the problem. 

Instead, advocate for a specific course of action. 

Manage the fear by stepping in like a well-trained server. Suggest a few dishes, not the whole menu. Help the buyer navigate their choices.

Tip #3: Address information asymmetry

From there, it’s time to level the playing field. 

The agency dilemma tells us buyers are worried about information asymmetry. They know that since you’re the expert, you hold the key info. And they’re concerned you may only be feeding them the good stuff. 

Tackle this by laying all the cards out on the table. 

  • Tell them what they shouldn’t buy along with what they should. Demonstrate that you’re bringing full transparency to the conversation. 
  • Use team members in a surgical way. Rather than overwhelming the buyer with your top-notch team, look to address specific concerns with an advisor mentality. 

By addressing information asymmetry, you remove major worries from the buyer’s mind and get one step closer to closed-won.

Tip #4: Take risk off the table

Lastly, sweep away as much risk as possible. 

If your buyer is worried about messing up, reduce the likelihood of that happening. Make your solution the safe option, not the risky one. 

  • Underpromise and overdeliver. Your buyer is worried about missed expectations. So, lower the bar with an easily-attainable set of promises. 
  • Derisk with executive sponsors and customer success. From the top of the house to the trenches, make sure there’s a structure all along the way
  • Layer on professional support service. There’s risk built into the implementation cycle. Cut it by ensuring highly-trained pros are there to help if things go sideways.
  • Encourage your buyer to start small. The bigger the lift, the more significant the risk. So start with a single step. This reduces the exposure for your buyer, while also helping you get a foot in the door.

Here’s your top-line takeaway

When customers get cold feet, pause. 

Recognize that you’re up against FOMU. If you rush in with the Challenger model and you’re sure to scare them off.

Instead, reach for a new playbook. One built around overcoming indecision. 

  • Judge the indecision with the ping and echo system. 
  • Offer a narrow set of recommendations. 
  • Tackle information asymmetry. 
  • Sweep risk off the table. 

Send hesitancy packing. 

Then, close the deal. 

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