Buying Decisions: Three Critical Mistakes That Prevent You From
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
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.
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.
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.
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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