Techniques for Turning Inaction Into Action

The Situation

Kim is the sales rep for an upscale office remodeling firm. She’s been calling on Josh, the office manager for an insurance company. Josh has told Kim that his company wants to update its offices with a new look. He has told her that his decision will most likely be accepted by his company.

Josh enjoys his job, and when the two have gotten together to discuss the project, it has been a pleasant experience. Josh has interesting stories to tell. Kim has even gotten one of her designers involved to discuss budget considerations.

Spinning Her Wheels

The problem for Kim is that this is the third time she has met with Josh, and he seems no closer to signing a retainer agreement to get this project going. Is Josh just shopping for ideas? Is he afraid to commit?

Move It Forward

Someone will get this business, but Kim doesn’t know how to get Josh to take action without seeming rude. Which Q4 sales strategy/techniques might she employ not only to move the sales process forward, but to get the business?

Avoids Getting Down to Business

You have probably already determined that Josh has Q3 tendencies; he is overly friendly during the sales process. Since his Q3 behavior means working below the line, Josh may be avoiding a change in the status of this relationship. Making decisions could mean having challenging conversations with Kim or her designer, and he doesn’t look forward to that.


Is Kim an Enabler?

What may be adding to the lack of movement is Kim’s own behavior. She could be encouraging Josh’s reluctance to move forward. How? We know that our own selling behavior influences customer behavior. In this case, when they’re together, Kim may be falling into a similar Q3 pattern of pleasant conversation that doesn’t stay focused on Q4 purpose and progress.


Kim could snap out of it and put pressure on Josh to try to force him to make a decision. That could result in an overreaction: “Josh, I can’t put in more time on this without a decision.” “Do you want my company to represent you or not?” It could cause Josh to respond in a Q1 hostile way. He might resent what feels like coercion and break off the sales process.


Influencing Indecisiveness

Kim needs to develop benefits to Josh for getting the project rolling. This Q4 approach helps customers realize what’s in their best interest, in terms of their own needs: “Josh, if we can come to a decision on this, I think your boss and your company will be pleased to see the progress you’re making.” It’s directed toward Josh’s Q3 need to be thought of highly and to put him in good stead with his boss.


Then, Kim should plan their next meeting to lead to a decision through a number of smaller steps. Q3 needs structure and direction to stay on track. Perhaps, she can prepare a range of three sample budgets which would highlight the features of each. She should suggest a short deadline for a decision.


So, if you have a reluctant prospect, size up the behavior you see and develop reasons that benefit them for making a timely decision.