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Customer “Decision-Making Readiness” As A Qualifier

by David Brock on September 7th, 2015

We’ve all read the data about increases in “No Decision Made.”  In the new, The Challenger Customer, the authors provide compelling data about the 5.4—the average of 5.4 people involved in complex B2B decisions.

It turns out from this and other research, the biggest challenge has little to do with vendor selection, but more to do with the customer ability to align disparate goals, priorities, agendas, perceptions of the problem, and so forth.

If we can’t do something to facilitate the ability of the customer to reach consensus, the likelihood of their making a decision, or of us getting a PO is very small.  Whether, as the CEB recommends, we focus on the mobilizers, or we try to facilitate the buying process, or we try some other method to help the customer reach a decision, we have to do something.

It strikes me that certain customers are just plain better at making decisions than others.  Perhaps, looking for those who are great at doing this, is a qualifier, or at least an indicator that we can avoid “No Decision Made.”

Whether it’s cultural, or something else, some customers are just better at getting things done than others.

We find some that are very successful with internal projects.  They find a way to align themselves and work efforts, driving great success in most of the projects the commit to.  They know how to work together, across functions, even across geographies.  They are able to overcome functional interests to align with their counterparts in very different parts of the organization.  They may have arguments, fights, and disagreements, but they have a process by which they can resolve them, moving forward in alignment.

On the other hand, we see other types of organizations that never seem to get things done.  They can’t resolve disagreements, they can’t align different agendas, priorities, or approaches. There tends to be low trust, both horizontally and vertically.  We see a track record of project failures– or at least projects that are significantly behind schedule, over budget, or fail to meet their objectives.  We see lots of things they may start, but a large number that are never finished.

It’s pretty easy to see the differences between these two types of organizations.

As a consequence, it’s pretty easy for us to assess the likelihood of the organization being able to align themselves to make a buying decision.  If they are very unsuccessful doing this internally, why are they more likely to be successful with a vendor selection?

This doesn’t mean that organizations that tend to be successful will be easy to align or be a pushover for making a decision for us.  It just means, based on their past ability to collaborate, we have a higher likelihood of completing a buyer journey with them.  We still have to earn the decision.

As part of our qualifying criteria, and as part of our opportunity strategy development, we should assess customer internal track records of project and collaboration success.  Based on this, we can at least go into the deal with our eyes wide open, rather than investing a lot of time that is likely to produce little result.

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