Bob was about two minutes from committing murder. Jesse, the company president, was about to be strangled to death in full view of the rest of the sales and technical staff. Bob wondered for a moment if the rest of the staff would try to stop him or cheer him on. At this particular moment, he decided they would cheer him on.
For the past two weeks, Jesse had driven everyone crazy researching the feasibility of the product request made by Bob’s largest client. The client understood that his new product request would lead Bob’s company into a new area sooner than the rest of the market would demand. To Bob, the client was handing him an exclusive contract for a product that Bob’s company would have to make anyway in the near future.
“Why not go ahead now, Jesse?” Bob had asked two weeks before. “The client is willing to work with us. He knows this will be new for us. We could grab the lead from all our competition.”
Well, Jesse did what Jesse usually did when there was a difficult decision to make. He studied it. And in the process of studying it, he roped everyone else into spending hours upon hours collecting more and more data. Whenever the staff thought enough data had been collected, Jesse dreamed up an additional 15 scenarios to research.
Well, two weeks had passed. Jesse had just announced that all of the work they had done, the hundreds, if not thousands, of man-hours spent only led him to the conclusion that he did not yet have enough information. And besides, the competition had just signed a contract with Bob’s client to work on the product. So there was no point in spending any more time on it.
Postponing a decision because you are still considering all of information, both on-hand and yet to come in, can reach the point where the need for the decision ceases to exist. Bob’s boss managed the situation by postponement. The sales opportunity was lost. Worse, recognition as the company who came up with the solution was handed to the competition.
No businessperson wants to make a decision that is a mistake. So what happens so many times? No decision is made. By not making a decision, Jesse avoided the possibility of making a mistake. He also avoided the possibility of bringing a new product to market to a client who wanted it.
What was the result of his indecision? A competitor moved in and took over the company's account. Business was lost. Did Jesse make a mistake anyway?
While this story is about a company president who waits until time makes a decision for him, the same applies to many salespeople. How many times have salespeople said there is no point in prospecting for new business on Friday because everyone is thinking about the weekend? And what’s the point of prospecting on Monday since everyone is buried at the beginning of the week? Tuesday might be a little better than Monday but not by much. Wednesday morning is good, except that’s when everyone is finding out his or her weekly plans are being messed up. Thursday is no good since all anyone wants to do is just get through to Friday. And we all know how Friday is for prospecting.
Now do you see how easy it is to postpone a prospecting decision?
When you need to make a decision, pick a time and date by which you will make it. Then make it. Follow through.
See what happens.
If the decision is not OK, then slow it down, reverse it, modify it. If the decision is OK, then see how you could speed it up or make it even better. The important thing is to make the decision rather than to let time make the decision for you.
If you have a way to evaluate your decisions on an on-going basis, then making a decision after a reasonable about of contemplation is simple.
If you make the decision, you control your life. If someone else makes the decision, he controls your life. Make a decision.