Why Change Selling Blog



This post will be of interest to CXO’s and revenue leaders in B2B SaaS companies because 25% of revenue is leaking from your funnel due to buyer indecision.

This couldn’t be happening to me and my company I hear you say.  But it probably is, and the level of indecision present in the market is an astonishing finding.  After reading The Jolt Effect, by Matt Dixon and Ted McKenna, where they analyzed more than 2.5 million sales calls recorded and digitized in the Tethr call recording system, we know the problem exists across the entire SaaS B2B market, regardless of sector or deal size.

The insights from the analysis published in The Jolt Effect result from an AI model created after analyzing 8,300 data points in a 2.5 million call sample.  The model reliably predicts the outcomes of a deal with 85% accuracy, based on the language the buyer uses in the call.

This is a historic and watershed study of buying behavior and sales leaders who ignore the findings or fail to read and absorb the lessons in this book, do so at their peril

What’s Going on?

In the past 5-7 years win rates (from qualified prospect to close) have nearly halved, while deals ending in no decision have more than doubled.  Until the Jolt Effect was published, few people knew why or could tell you what to do about it.  As revealed in the study, elite salespeople could intuitively detect indecision and took steps to overcome the indecision to bring in the business or recognized the buyer could not decide and they moved on.

win loss rates to no decison

But what about the other 94% of salespeople?

If you are not recording every sales call and Zoom/Teams/etc. call and your sales managers are not analyzing sales calls and coaching, peer coaching, and mentoring salespeople and SDRs on a weekly basis, then you might as well click away now because nothing is going to change and your %age of deals ending in no-decision number will remain the same

Why are so many deals ending in no decision?

Based on the data, 44% of deals that ended in no decision because the buyer preferred the status quo to change.  The other 56% of deals were lost because of buyer indecision, see Figure 1.1 from the Jolt Effect Audible download.

root cause of losses

Buyer indecision is not new. We know in every decision involving change that there are two opposing sets of forces at play. This is well articulated in the Jobs to Be Done framework or mental decision model, articulated originally by Bob Moesta 20 years ago, alongside Clayton Christensen.

There are opposing forces at play in any decision to change that result in behavior change. On the forces pushing forward to a new choice; there is the urgency of the current problem and the desire to make things better, combined with the attractiveness of the new solution. The forces blocking change are the habit of the present and the tug of historical allegiances, combined with the anxiety and uncertainty of making a new choice.

Opposing Forces model from Bob Moesta.
JTBD Forces model

What is causing buyer anxiety and uncertainty that leads to indecision?  It’s human nature and the fear of messing up is causing high levels of indecision for three main reasons.  These could resonate with you as you think back about deals that didn’t close for your team over the past year or so.

  1. Buyers are unable to choose between different products and ask for comparisons between your offering and competitor B and obsess over features that are present or missing from your offering.
  2. Buyers are drowning in high-quality information from dozens of sources and trying to find the best product/service becomes a confusing, time-consuming chore. This is known as analysis paralysis. Symptoms are when buyers ask for more information, another pilot, another customer reference or advise they will get back to you when they have analyzed yet another competitor’s products.
  3. Buyers are uncertain of achieving the ROI and financial outcomes they seek from the new product or service and believe that it will reflect poorly on them and the decision team if they don’t.  Buyers view the amount of change, disruption, and financial outlay as too risky for them and possibly career-limiting if all goes badly.

What are High Performers Doing to Overcome Indecision?

The JOLT in The Jolt Effect title is an acronym for what elite salespeople are doing that is different from the rest and it starts with a J.

  • Judge that indecision is happening by listening carefully to customer language and observing behavior.
  • Offer proactive guidance and advocacy (personal recommendations), based on experience working with similar customers who faced the same array of choices. This is the domain of elite reps who have established trust and are industry experts in how companies buy and use your product.
  • Limit further exploration.  This requires several skills, sense-making and controlling the flow of information. Salespeople who have established themselves as subject matter experts are in the best position to help customers to decide.
  • Take risk off the table. Top performers help buyers to get comfortable with their decision by setting outcome expectations, offering downside risk protection, and or starting with a smaller deal size.

What to Do?

  1. Implement The JOLT Effect training to overcome buyer indecision, and this starts by getting everyone on the customer-facing team to read the book, or as a minimum watch a video summary of the core concepts.  In your weekly sales meeting, get each salesperson to present one key learning from the book or idea they will adopt next week.
  2. If you are not already recording and analyzing sales calls - when would now be a good time to start? 
    Call recording software from companies like ExecVision (Mediafly), Gong, Chorus, and Tethr are the only tools in the sales enablement tool stack that go viral in an organization.  Why?  Because salespeople, particularly new hires, want to hear what top reps are saying and doing on sales calls.  A library of curated calls is a wonderful way to accelerate sales ramp time with regular coaching and mentoring.  Nothing beats call recording and coaching for improving conversational competency.
  3. Focus on skills development.  A recession is a good time to upgrade the consultative selling skills of your team by replacing poor performers with mindset issues and by implementing weekly 3-4 hour skills coaching, and role-playing workshop sessions, where managers review and critique calls and focus on developing one skill a month and monitor individual performance improvement.  Toastmasters is a great first step outside the company to gain important communication sales and life skills
  4. Adopt a continuous learning ethos.  This starts at the top of the company and sales leaders must encourage salespeople to take charge of their own personal development, subsidizing book and development course purchases, holding monthly book reviews, and encouraging participation in external learning courses in line with career development.  

Why bother?

The data in the study reveals that Jolt seller win rates are nearly double that of average sellers in deals with low indecision, and more than double in deals with medium levels of indecision, but when buyers have a high degree of indecision, Jolt sellers have a win rate 5 times higher than average sellers. This chart is from the Jolt Effect Audible download.

jolt win rates

I know of no other lever that sales leaders can pull, capable of increasing revenue that would otherwise be lost to no decision. What is the financial impact to your company if in the first year of implementing Jolt training, deals lost to indecision were reduced by 10%, which means your win rate increased by 10%?  What if that was 20%?

Want to implement the Jolt training outlined above?  Get in touch and book a free consultation.

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