Getting Prompt Buying Decisions: Three Critical Mistakes That Prevent You From Closing Sales

By Landy Chase

"I don't have a commitment, but a decision is pending". Oh, sure it is! And Bill Clinton never inhaled! In my mind, "pending" usually means the same thing as "dead on arrival". How often do you say "the decision is pending" when what you really mean is "I haven't got a clue when, or if, we will get the business”?

Let's face it - your buyer has the right to "think it over". In fact, as a business owner myself, I could make a strong argument that a buyer who makes decisions on the spot is using poor judgment by acting too hastily. I hope that doesn't offend you.

On the other hand, once your decision-maker has all of your information, there is no reason for a long delay in a decision, favorable or unfavorable. In fact, they owe you a prompt decision as a courtesy to you.

"Prompt" here may not mean "today", it means "in a reasonable time frame". However, with the right approach you can get prompt decisions with great consistency on all of your pending opportunities. First, though, you need to accurately identify what you are doing incorrectly.

There are three key reasons that business people run into delays in getting decisions from buyers. They are:

1) No Decision Maker Involved

2) No Negative Consequences

3) No Deadline

Lets take a look at each of these strategic errors and how to correct them.

No decision maker involved: This is the most common strategic mistake,  and the one that has the most negative impact on your effectiveness. In your initial meeting, ask your contact what their decision process would be in the event that they decide to buy from you. You have the right to ask this question! If this person is not the decision maker, do not commit on pricing. (How can you possibly give pricing to someone who cannot buy what you are selling?)

Now you have the decision process identified. Explain that you are not yet in a position to provide pricing, because you have not yet obtained input from the other people involved in the business decision. This shows good business judgment on your part, not pushiness. Ask this person to assist you in arranging brief meetings with these other people.

No negative consequences:  If there are no negative consequences to not making a prompt decision, what motivation does the buyer have to act quickly?

Look for ways to impose a negative consequence for waffling on the decision. Say, "in order for us to guarantee shipping by ____, we will need your commitment no later than ______". Or, "We currently have dates available this month for initiating this project; however if we do not get your go-ahead by ____ I cannot guarantee availability the availability of our staff". Try it. It works.

No deadline established: never leave a presentation without establishing a date for the decision to be made. Say, "How much time do you need to make your decision; would a week be adequate?" In most cases, the buyer will say "yes, a week is fine". Follow up this meeting immediately with a thank-you note. In it, thank them for the courtesy of their time. Also include this passage: "thank you for your commitment to make a prompt business decision next week. I greatly appreciate it." You will then need to make one follow-up call - in exactly seven days.

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