The JOLT Effect: Helping High Performers Overcome Customer Indecision


Matt Dixon
Reading Time: 5 minutes



The JOLT Effect: Helping High Performers Overcome Customer Indecision

Aurelien Mottier

Co-Founder and CEO at Operatix

Matthew Dixon

Co-Author of The Jolt Effect

There’s only one thing that is worse for salespeople than hearing ‘no’, and it’s ‘I need to think about it’. Customer indecision is not only frustrating to deal with, particularly when a salesperson has gone through the entire process of pitching only to end up with no certain answer. 

This hurdle is all too common; in fact, research shows that 40 to 60% of sales pipeline is lost to no decision. What is less common, however, is the knowledge of how to overcome it successfully. 

In this episode of B2B Revenue Acceleration, our host Aurelien Mottier (Co-Founder and CEO, Operatix) sits down with author Matt Dixon to discuss his new co-authored book, The Jolt Effect.

Packed with the latest research in customer indecision, practical guidance and myth-busting analysis, The Jolt Effect offers a new approach to tackle the dreaded ‘I need to think about it’.

Aurelien and Matt discuss the concept of the book, as well as why addressing a customer’s fear of failure is so important and some of the most psychological insights that have come out of their research.

Interested in understanding how high performers overcome customer indecision? Click here and the form to be in for a chance to win a free copy of The Jolt Effect.

The Research Behind the Jolt Effect

There’s no doubt that all of us will remember how all industries were turned on their head due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and sales was certainly not excluded from this. Everything that was once done face-to-face was now completely virtual, transforming not only the world of sales, but the world in general.

“This presented us, as sales researchers, with a golden opportunity. We decided to partner with several dozen companies, collecting two and a half million recorded sales calls,” Matt says, “We then used a machine learning platform to study those, so we think it’s the biggest study of actual sales conversations that has ever been done.” 

Armed with two and a half million recorded sales calls, the team had expert insight into how high performers tackled customer indecision successfully. 

Not only that, but it allowed them to bust some of the common myths that so often circulated amongst sales professionals – and could be having dire effects on results.

Jolt Effect header survey

Why Focus on Customer Indecision?

The main focus of The Jolt Effect is customer indecision, a topic that affects all sales professionals during their careers. 

Customer indecision can appear in many forms. Prospects stop showing up to scheduled meetings, their response times to emails slow down. They noticeably push back and delay making a decision. Until finally, they stop responding altogether and the account has to be marked as a disappointing ‘no decision’.

Matt and his team found that a jaw-dropping 40 to 60% of a salesperson’s total pipeline is lost to no decision. They go through the sales process with the customer, using valuable time and resources, only for the prospect to go radio-silent when pushed for a decision.

Understanding what exactly causes a prospect to disengage from the conversation without making a decision is the first step in overcoming the issue. Yet this is easier said than done, particularly if the prospect doesn’t explain their indecision firsthand. 

“We found that anywhere between 40 and 60% of an average salesperson’s total pipeline will be lost to no decision.”

Matthew Dixon, Co-Author of The Jolt Effect

It’s likely that the risk of a  recession will, unfortunately, cause a spike in customer indecision.

More and more business leaders will be delaying their decisions, disengaging and scrutinizing every penny they spend. Now more than ever, sales professionals need to be equipped with the right techniques to turn ‘I’m not sure’ into a confident ‘yes’.

Copy of Jolt Effect header survey

Fear of Failure: the Root of Customer Indecision

The most common myths surrounding customer indecision is both the reasoning behind it and how best two tackle it. Unfortunately, these are the two things that are essential to get right.

Salespeople are taught to believe that it is because they haven’t pitched the product well enough, or that you haven’t communicated the urgency required to get a resounding answer. Yet sometimes this isn’t the case – objections don’t always come from how the salesperson has pitched the product, but rather a rooted fear of failure from the customer themselves.

“When customers start to show signs of hesitation, salespeople are taught to believe that the only reason that a customer is not moving forward is because you failed to beat the status quo.”

Matt Dixon, Co-Author of The Jolt Effect

When a customer begins displaying these signs of hesitation, such as disengagement or delaying a decision, it’s common for a salesperson to double down on the positivity, going through the impressive numbers they had previously pitched and talking about how great the outcome will be should they use your solution. 

Yet Matt points out that this is rarely compelling enough to break through that fear of failure. Once that backfires, a salesperson then plays upon urgency and ‘fear of missing out’ by putting anxiety into the mind of the customer before then offering exclusive discounts that are only redeemable there and then.

“These are FOMO techniques that salespeople are often taught to use, but what we found was that for customers that have already stated their intent to move forward, these approaches actually backfire more often than they work out. There’s an 84% probability in those situations that the customer will end up doing nothing. You make things worse, not better.”

Matt Dixon, Co-Author of The Jolt Effect

When looking through the research, Matt and his team found that there were three things that cause a customer to become indecisive. 

First, they’re unsure of what to pick. Sales professionals often overload a customer with too many options and configurations, leaving them more confused than they were when they entered the conversation. There’s too much information or packages to choose from and the customer ends up with a fear of picking the wrong one, which is known as a valuation problem.

The second source of indecision is the opposite problem – a lack of information. It’s vital to strike the balance between ensuring the customer is aware of the purpose of your solution and overloading them with options. 

Third, is what Matt calls outcome uncertainty. This fear stems from not being confident in the ROI, the cost won’t be worth it or that the promised benefits won’t come to fruition. They worry about committing to a solution in case they won’t reap the rewards as they don’t want to make unnecessary purchases that aren’t worth the risk – even if they know your solution can help fix their pain points.

With this in mind, Matt says it’s less about dialling up the FOMO, and more about dialling out the FOMU – the fear of messing up. You must ensure the customer is comfortable in their choice, giving them the assurance that you have their back and that, in Matt’s words, they look like a hero rather than a fool for making this purchase.

“At the end of the day, a customer doesn’t really care about a 10% discount window. What they really care about is losing their job. If the customer doesn’t believe in the benefit of moving forward, you’re not going to sell anything.

Matt Dixon, The Jolt Effect

The Jolt Effect sets out to help sales professionals tackle each of these root causes in a way that works, analysing over two million sales calls to do so. The book offers tangible techniques and methods to ensure your team can tackle customer indecision successfully, as well as providing the latest research into the topic.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to B2B Revenue Acceleration on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, our website, or anywhere you get podcasts.

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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