One of the key elements of the sales process is the customer’s decision-making process analysis. The higher the transaction value, the more people on the customer’s side are usually involved in the decision-making process. Without analysing the decision-making process, the salespeople will stay in the dark. The lack of knowledge on this subject causes not only greater difficulties in acquiring customers but also leads to a number of extra expenses for your business.

No idea how you should understand the customer’s lack of response

Companies which I deal with often have problems with determining the moment when prolonged negotiations with a potential customer (or even worse, prolonged lack of response on the customer’s side) should be regarded as a failure, and when it should be assumed that such negotiations require more time. It’s much easier to answer this question knowing the customer’s decision-making process – which people will be involved at which stages of the decision-making. 

Without this knowledge, it’s difficult to establish whether “one month without a specific response” means a lack of interest, or perhaps a holiday season which is typical for the behaviour of decision-makers in a particular sector.

No idea when “asking for a decision” makes sense

If the customer said that the subject can be discussed with their superiors no sooner than in a month, then sending follow-ups during that time won’t help in concluding the business earlier. It’s also possible that this might even bother the contact person. The less is known about the customer’s decision-making process, the easier it will be to discourage them with unnecessary questions such as “Was the decision made or not?”. 

Losing the support of the main contact person probably also means a smaller chance of convincing the other decision-makers. On the other hand, any unwanted follow-ups mean unnecessary losses of time and money which could be used e.g. for more efficient preparations for other business negotiations.

No information on how to help the contact person in convincing the rest of the company

Convincing the main contact person is only the first step in a long decision-making process. The larger the transaction, the more people will have to be convinced: the CEO, the CFO, accountants, lawyers, the IT staff. 
Each person will have their own objections and questions. In a perfect world, you need to know when each of them will be included in the decision-making and then you will have to speak with them.

If this can’t be done in person, the main contact person should at least be provided with relevant materials. The entire situation can be considered in the following way:if the solution is implemented and becomes successful, the contact person will get a pay rise or a promotion. The sales with a long decision-making process are, first of all, showing the contact person what they must do to get a promotion and then aiding them in overcoming any appearing obstacles. 

Not knowing the customer’s decision-making process actually means taking part in only one of several stages. The rest of them can’t be even consciously affected.

You can’t plan your work

In the salespeople’s CRM, there is often a list of leads where “they are waiting for a decision”. The lesser the awareness of how the decision-making path works for each of them, the more difficult it becomes to assess which leads from this list should be focused on at a given moment. 

Not knowing how many opportunities are still on the plate makes it more difficult to plan your work (you can find more about this here) – “Am I going to deal with 30 leads next week or maybe, in fact, only 7 because the remaining 23 have been lost long ago or nothing will happen in their decision-making processes within the next week?”. 

The greater the chaos, the more non-productive activities are performed during the day which waste the salespeople’s time and the company’s money.

The marketing department does not know whether it generates good leads

When it’s difficult to determine which leads are really at the stage of decision-making and which are simply afraid to say directly “we are not interested”, it’s harder to get honest feedback from the marketing department like “Leads A, B and C have proven to be valuable sales opportunities, but there is no point in talking with X, Y and Z anymore”. 

Without this knowledge, marketing experts find it harder to generate valuable sales opportunities. Could it be that the most valuable leads in your company come from conferences while you spend the most on Google Ads instead of exhibition stands? Or is it vice versa? 

It’s hard to prepare a sales forecast 

When you don’t know which stage of the decision-making process are particular leads at, it’s more difficult to prepare a reliable sales forecast for the next month. Underestimated forecasts can lead to a lack of resources to execute all the orders, while the staff will be overburdened or the customers will have to wait longer for service delivery. If the forecast is too optimistic, some resources will remain unused. Your company will employ more staff than it actually needs – and this will generate unnecessary costs.

The growing frustration

A salesperson likes to hear “yes” while answers such as “no”, evasive answers or the lack of a specific response spoil their mood. The information on the lead’s decision-making process not only increases the chance of establishing cooperation but reduces the uncertainty regarding “which stage the decision-making has reached”.

A part of the salespeople’s frustration arises from the poor analysis of their leads’ decision-making process. In many cases, such uncertainty could be eliminated using more accurate knowledge about the context in which the lead will make a decision and when this might actually happen. 

In addition, knowing your customer’s decision-making process makes it easier to interpret or respond to evasive answers.

If you want to make your company’s sales more effective, enable the salespeople to plan their work more accurately and avoid unnecessary expenses for your company, then you must analyse the customer’s decision-making process more closely while acquiring them.

Not asking a few questions that should have been asked during a sales call later has a negative impact on many areas – not only on the salespeople’s schedules but also on the entire company.