From the Blog

The Science of Closing

Hero BG
Harrison Waid

x min read

Feb 21, 2024

Guest blog for SAMPS

Author: Harrison Waid, Co-Founder


It’s a challenging time to be in sales. It’s harder than ever to get buyers’ attention and when you do, it’s tough to convince them to change the way they do things. Here are some startling statistics from a recent study that was published in The Jolt Effect: How High Performers Overcome Indecision.

  • 44% of deals that end up lost to inaction are due to the customer’s preference for the status quo
  • 56% of the time, the customer expresses a desire to abandon their status quo but, for one reason or another, is unwilling or unable to make a decision and commit

This doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

High-performing reps disrupt the status quo and can accurately identify the different types of indecision to help their customers move forward.

We’ve all had deals where everything seemed to be going well, and then out of nowhere, the prospect ghosts us.

They told us they wanted to move forward, but for some reason, they just stopped responding to our follow-ups.

We’ll never completely eliminate this from happening, but there are techniques we can use to lower the chances it happens to us.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Qualification: Don’t work bad deals
  2. Disrupting the status quo: Get prospects to agree to change
  3. Overcoming indecision: Guide prospects through the decision process
  4. Navigating the buying committee: Build a business case wtih input from everyone impacted by the decision


The first step in any sales process is qualification. Qualification is the process of determining if you have a real opportunity that is worth spending time on. Every bad opportunity you work, it takes time away from finding better opportunities that have a chance of closing.

If you have a low win rate or end up chasing deals that go dark, it’s probably because they weren’t real opportunities to begin with.

To help with qualification, determine what characteristics make up a good deal. Here are a few examples:

  1. They have an urgent need
  2. You’re talking to the decision-maker
  3. They have budget set aside
  4. They have a clear understanding of the problem
  5. There is a clear business impact of solving the issue

Not all of these will be present when you initially meet with a prospect. But over the course of the deal, you will be defining problems, doing root cause analysis, getting to the decision-maker, shaping decision criteria, and aligning to high-priority initiatives.

Here are a few commonly used frameworks for deal qualification. They are all similar and can be customized to your unique sales process.

MEDDPICC is great for large complex opportunities.

SPICED is great for mid-sized opportunities with fewer decision-makers

By using the same framework for qualifying deals, you will have a repeatable process of knowing what is real and what is not.

Just like a protocol is used in the lab to generate reproducible results, a qualification process is used in sales to forecast deals accurately.

2 parts to every sale

Once you’ve identified an opportunity, there are 2 distinct phases in every sales process. You have to disrupt the buyer’s status quo and then help them overcome indecision.

In the early stages of the sales process, you need to disrupt your buyer’s status quo. Get them to agree to change.

As the sales process continues and gets closer to a purchase decision, you need to adapt your sales strategy to overcome indecision.

Defeating the status quo is all about showing the customer how they will succeed with your solution, but overcoming indecision is all about proving to the customer that they won’t fail by purchasing your solution.

Let’s break down each of these.

Disrupt the status quo

Status quo bias is one type of cognitive bias that involves people preferring things to stay as they are or for the current state of affairs to remain the same.

Understanding how the status quo bias influences buyer decisions, you can look for ways to disrupt the bias in your conversations.

Here are four different components that pull someone towards their status quo.

  1. Preference Stability: Individuals prefer keeping things as they are rather than changing as a change might negatively impact their current environment.
  2. Anticipated Regret: Fear or anticipation that a decision to change from the status quo may lead to regret or blame if the new option turns out to be worse.
  3. Perceived Cost: Changing from the status quo involves money, time, effort, or resources, which is a deterrent to making a change.
  4. Selection Difficulty: Difficulty making a decision based on the complexity or number of available alternatives, leading them to stick with the status quo

Your initial conversation with a buyer is your best opportunity to disrupt their status quo. This is when they are most receptive to share information about their current situation. This initial call is often referred to as a discovery call.

Help them identify a problem, the root cause of that problem, and the impact of not solving it. Get your buyer to agree that the status quo is not their best option for achieving their desired results. Use a framework, like the one below, to guide your initial discovery conversations.

Technical Sales Discovery Framework

If you want a comprehensive list of questions that fit into this framework, download the Life Science Sales Toolkit

Once you get them to agree that the status quo is not sufficient, you still have work to do. The data says over half of these opportunities are still lost to indecision.

Overcome indecision

There are 3 different types of indecision discussed in The Jolt Effect.

  1. Valuation Problems - worried about choosing the wrong option
  2. Lack of Information - concerned they haven’t done enough homework
  3. Outcome Uncertainty - fear they won’t get the results they’re paying for

Your first step is to identify which type of indecision you’re facing.

Identifying Valuation Problems: Does the buyer continue to press on differences between various offerings and configurations or express confusion about which option to choose?

Identifying Lack of Information: Does the buyer ever delay because they need “more data” or they need to “evaluate all other options” before making a decision?

Identifying Outcome Uncertainty: Does the customer talk about the risk involved with your solution or ask for guarantees of results?

Once identified, you can implement the right strategy to work with the buyer to overcome their indecision.

Overcome indecision cheat sheet

Navigate the buying committee

A buying committee is the entire group of people involved in making a purchase. The size of a committee can vary depending on the price and complexity of the purchase. Even in a complex purchase, there’s always one person who chairs the buying committee, one person who makes the final decision, and one person who signs the agreement.

It’s important to talk to as many people as possible impacted by the decision. Your goal is to find a champion who can and will sell on your behalf when you aren’t in the room. Your main point of contact won’t always be your champion.

Here is a great question you can ask to understand all the parties involved in the decision process.

“Who else is affected by this [problem, decision, pain point]?”

“Wouldn’t it make sense to get their opinion on this as well?”

Developing a champion

Finding a champion who is willing and able to sell on your behalf when you aren’t in the room is one of the most important sales skills to close more deals.

Decisions are made behind closed doors in internal conversations.

In order to find a champion you need to

  1. Multi-thread by talking to multiple people impacted by the problem
  2. Gain their trust and commitment to solve the problem
  3. Empower them with a vision and business case to sell on your behalf

You sell your solution every day. Your champion may only buy a new product or service a few times a year at most. Arm them with a compelling story and business case that is crafted with them. Here are the steps to building a compelling business case.

  1. Create an initial draft using your champion’s words
  2. Get feedback from all people impacted
  3. Iterate that feedback
  4. Present the business case

If you want a template business case, download the Life Science Sales Toolkit

Closing Process

Just because you built a solid business case and the decision maker has decided to move forward, doesn’t mean your job is done. You still need to get that deal across the line by working with legal, procurement, or any other party that’s required. This is when sales is more like project management. Here are a few questions to ask before you can commit the deal.

  1. Once you have an agreement, what are the steps needed to get a PO?
  2. How long does this normally take for a purchase like this?
  3. Is there anyone else involved that we need to speak with? Eg: legal, procurement, etc…
  4. Do we need to get added to your purchasing system?

To help guide you through this process, we’ve built a closing process checklist that you can download inside the Life Science Sales Toolkit.


  1. 44% of deals are lost to the status quo.
  2. Ruthlessly qualify every deal.
  3. Your sales process needs to both disrupt the status quo AND overcome indecision.
  4. Help buyers identify a problem, the root cause of that problem, and the impact of not solving it.
  5. Identify and overcome the specific type of indecision you’re facing.
  6. Talk to as many people as possible impacted by the decision.

If you want to learn more about the science of closing deals, check out the free course in the Succession sales training community. We go deeper into these topics and discuss how to build a business case, overcome objections, manage your pipeline, and many more nuances behind what it takes to close deals in today’s economic climate.

About Succession: Succession is a life science sales training community for reps who want to improve their skills, exceed their quota, and take the next step in their career. We work with individual reps in our community and partner with companies to help train and develop their sales teams.

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