5 Reasons You're Losing to "No Decision"

Nate Bagley

Want to dive deeper into this topic? Check out the 30-minute interview with Andy Paul and Howard Brown below. The video is time-stamped to help you skip to the sections that are most relevant to you.

For a sales leader, there's only one thing worse than constantly losing deals to a competitor: losing to “No Decision.”

When you lose to no decision, you can’t just train your reps to combat the competition’s specific selling points. And you’re not losing because your product is bad or your price is too high.

Those things can be fixed.

Rather, losing to a no decision is a symptom of more significant problems.

A no decision means one of two things:

  1. You were talking to the wrong person (who wasn't your ideal buyer), or …
  2. You couldn’t convince your buyer of the value you bring.

According to author and sales leader Andy Paul, no-decision deals can happen up to 40% of the time.

“Every minute you spend on a no-decision deal is a minute less that you could be spending on a deal that would actually close.”

—Howard Brown, CEO & Founder at Revenue.io

In this post, we’ll show you five reasons you might be wasting nearly half your time on deals that have no chance of turning into revenue—and what you can do about it.

1. You’re misattributing your losses to competitors

Many sales teams are shocked when they find out that the number one reason they lose deals is not that buyers go with a competitor, but because they don’t choose any solution at all.

This means that the buyer doesn’t understand why they need your product, or they believe the problem your solution addresses isn't actually worth solving.

This is why it’s so important to track the reasons you lose—for every single deal.

After conducting tens of thousands of buyer interviews with closed-lost buyers, Clozd has learned that, on average, 3–5 Decision Drivers impact the outcome of every closed-lost deal.

If you’re only attributing one or two factors to the outcome of deals in your CRM, you’re missing vital information about why your buyers do or do not choose to do business with you.

2. You suck at discovery

Discovery isn’t just a one-and-done thing; it should be happening every time you talk to a buyer. The seller-buyer relationship is just that—a relationship, and you need to continuously get to know the buyer and their needs.

Brown’s advice is to ensure that you know everyone who's on the buying team—and that you make an effort to really understand why they're wanting to make a change. If you can understand each persona and what motivates them, you’ll be able to weed out the prospects who aren’t actually buyers.

Paul explains that a salesperson is essentially “hired” by the buyer to solve a problem they have. It’s then the salesperson’s job to guide them to the solution.

The easiest way to do that is to truly understand their needs.

“You’re not selling them something; they’re buying something.

—Howard Brown, CEO & Founder at Revenue.io

Do you know everyone who cares about the problem you’re trying to solve, and why? And are you doing a good job at showing them the value of your solution?

3. You’re not properly qualifying your buyers

When you’re doing an initial screening call, are you qualifying that prospect to fit your ICP?

Early objections that would normally disqualify a buyer are often brushed aside in initial calls. Sellers are trained to push past objections, and that often leads to suboptimal opportunities getting further down the pipe than they should. 

Unfortunately, this is happening more often than you’d think.‍

Rex Galbraith, CRO at Consensus, has utilized data from his win-loss analysis program to identify both an ICP and a UCP (un-ideal customer profile).

He found that it might be more valuable for his sales team to know who their products and services are NOT for than it is to know who they're perfect for.

When he introduced his sales team to their UCP, his account executives became significantly more productive, and win rates increased. Reps stopped wasting time with bad prospects early on in the sales process, which freed them up to spend the majority of their time on qualified buyers.

Listen to your buyer's objections early on, and use them to identify that buyer as an ICP or UCP. If they aren’t the former, they have a low likelihood of closing, so don’t waste your time selling to them.

4. You’re not demonstrating a clear ROI

One of the most common reasons sellers end up with no-decision outcomes is that the buyer isn’t able to calculate a clear ROI.

If you get too far into the process and your buyer can’t calculate the ROI, it's a good bet that they haven’t proven their business case internally. You must ensure that you're educating your buyer on the value of solving their problem—and that your products and services are the solution they're looking for.

Make sure they can calculate their ROI so their internal business case to purchase is a no-brainer.

5. You need to focus on losses as much as you focus on wins

Brown has observed that sales teams often focus too much on win rates when there’s a lot to be learned from studying your losses.

A loss means you gave the buyer a bad experience.

It can be tempting to focus on wins because the whole company can celebrate a win, but your sales team should be looking at losses with the same rigor and scope so they can truly understand why the buyer chose what they did.

Are you taking the time to truly understand why your buyers choose not to do business with you? Or do you have a culture of simply filling out fields in your CRM, and moving on to the next deal?

Want to know why you’re losing to no decision?

Understanding why you're losing deals that result in no decision is key to improving your sales process and strategy.

Identifying common reasons for no-decision outcomes—such as misattributing losses to competitors, inadequate discovery practices, focusing on unqualified buyers, and not demonstrating a clear ROI—is essential to ensuring that you're focusing on deals that have strong closed-won potential.

Investing time into analyzing your losses—with a specific focus on understanding all the reasons why you lost—can be just as important as celebrating (and duplicating) the wins.

If you want to get more detailed insights into why you’re losing to no decision, let’s talk.

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