Ask about anyone in business about their biggest competition, and they'll likely offer up the name of a rival company. I'd argue that for most companies, the fiercest of all competitors is prospect indecision and apathy -- the predominant deal-killers faced by sales teams day in and day out.
Indecision indicates a discomfort level in pulling the trigger on a purchase the prospect believes solves a problem, whereas apathy is an overarching indifference for what you're selling. While both are often vocalized under the guise of the same objection -- "I need time to decide" -- the underlying issues are very different.
If a prospect is apathetic, they're questioning the need for what you're offering. When you sense apathy, question to determine if a real need exists. If it doesn't, end the call. If you know they can benefit, but they don't see it yet, help them realize the need by posing high-impact questions designed to help them discover missed opportunities or the real impact of a lack of decision. If they just aren't ready, move on.
With indecision, the prospect may simply struggle to make big decisions alone, needing a hand to validate the desire to move forward or not, or it may be a more deep-seated concern. While it can be challenging to detect the difference, the approach to overcoming either type of indecision begins in the same way. Early in the sales call, work to overcome the most likely prospect objections before they are even realized.
Then, if you still encounter indecision, utilize an assumptive close. Remind the prospect of what's to be gained in moving forward or lost in not doing so, and begin completing the paperwork necessary to close the sale. This will encourage a prospect to either move forward, decline to purchase, or voice an underlying objection. Either way, a decision of some kind has been made.
If the prospect voices what you believe to be a legitimate reason for delaying a purchase decision, then be sure to advance the sale by setting a specific appointment for your next call before you wrap up your current meeting. Make this a low-key five-minute check-in call and encourage the prospect to initiate that call to ensure they don't feel chased. If they call, there is a high likelihood a partnership will be formed. If they don't, check in to make sure everything is okay. If it is and they simply weren't able to make the call a priority, it's likely time to leave the proverbial ball in their court, moving on to prospects with a more immediate need.
Be proactive in tackling these prevalent sales challenges. You cannot afford to invest time and energy with a prospect who isn't genuinely interested or who isn't able to make a decision.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, Tennessee, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).