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How to Manage Prospects who Delay Decisions


Can’t see the Wood from the Trees?


How many times have you said or heard the phrase; ‘I can’t close the deal because the decision has been delayed?’ It is one of the most frustrating elements of selling in a B2B market! I’m sure we’ve all been heard about delays in business decision making in relation to Brexit. But there may be many other reasons why a prospect might decide to bring a viable sales proposition to a halt.

It could be that there is internal disagreement about the solution or a preferred supplier or the spend is being questioned. The prospect might be about to go through an internal re-organisation, relocation or take over which they don’t want to talk to you about.

Whatever the reason given, and before you act, think about what you are doing and ask yourselves these questions.


Who has delayed the decision?

-  Why?

-  How long is the delay going to be for?

-  What can you do about it?


Many people in a sales role are rightfully frustrated when all seems to be going well with a prospect, only for a delay of weeks or months to come along. Many buyers prefer to articulate bad news, especially a delay, by email and may not be willing to talk about it let alone meet up for a discussion.


If this happens to you or someone in your sales operation, think about these three possible solutions:


1.  Establish if a budget is still set aside for the opportunity

If possible, meet with those involved in the decision making process. If the delay is purely around budget hen you may be in the negotiation phase without realising it. If the budget has been changed, then you will need to find out when the opportunity might return. Whatever the reason, you will need to isolate it and try and get agreement with the prospect about your next move.


2.  Reinforce the value of your solution

This can be done by asking questions about the real value of solution:

-  What is the ROI, value and key benefits agreed by the prospect?

- What are the key benefits outlined in your proposal?


If the delay is caused by something which is outside the control of the people involved in the buying decision then there is not much you can do. But there are times when the value of a solution may not be completely understood. If this is the case, you may be able to do something about it.


3.  Discuss the cost to the prospect in delaying a decision

Deferring decisions can have a detrimental effect on a company’s efficiency, costs, revenue potential etc. A delayed decision can mean people in a target account having to re-engage with often complex and time consuming processes again at a later stage.


There are times when you may be able to influence a delayed decision with good questioning and meetings with those involved. This might include senior managers from both sides to keep a prospect engaged and on track.

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