top of page

How to help our clients overcome FOMU (Fear of Messing Up) and empower them to confidently make decisions.

Hello there👋

Welcome back to this week's Sales Curiosity Club!

Did you know that more often, our real competition is not the competitor’s, but it’s our buyer’s no decision?

In the "Jolt Effect" book, they analysed over 2 million sales calls, looking for patterns that could teach us what works and doesn't work in successful sales processes. One of their key findings was that 40% to 60% of B2B purchase processes result in "no decision." And in most cases, the company failed to buy because they couldn't figure out how to confidently decide.

​It's not FOMO, Fear of Missing out, it's FOMU, Fear of Messing Up.

Buyers are more worried about messing up than they are about missing out.

B2B Buyers are often more concerned about making the wrong decision rather than missing out on an opportunity. This fear of making a mistake can lead them to delay or avoid making a decision altogether.

So, how do we address this?

Let's explore what you can do to improve sales success.

At Alcatel-Lucent, we were taught to "rigorously qualify" and "present to close” and not present until you are ready to present.

Even in smaller deals, these principles remain the most effective and successful framework. Alcatel-Lucent deals are complex, multi-million dollar transactions that require significant time to close. While not every aspect of this sales process may apply to other businesses, there are key elements that can be successful in any sales deal.

After Alcatel-Lucent, I joined Ruckus Wireless (a Start-up at that time), and we closed a cool 7-figure deal in 12 months using the same framework. We won the contract to supply WI-FI access points across the thousands of phone booths in Spark New Zealand.

To this day, seeing one of these phone booths still brings a smile to my face. 😊

While many salespeople are adept at inquiring and listening, only a select few possess the expertise to cultivate a profound level of mutual collaboration and empower clients to make a decision.

I'll take you to two parts of this process:

  1. How to qualify rigorously

  2. How to create and deliver a compelling sales pitch (we will tackle this one next week!).


The most successful salespeople spend 80% of their time qualifying.

Here are the Five steps to Understanding and Qualifying the Opportunity.

Step 1: Don't jump into pitching a solution.

Very often, salespeople start with a slide presentation during their first meeting.

You might say, but Ren, I requested a meeting to present my products and services. I can't just ask what their problems are!

Yes, you can! There are two ways you can do it. These are just examples, and adapt them aligned to your service and solutions.

Option 1: Start with the Problems or Challenges.

"Thanks for meeting me, and I am excited to share our experience and how we helped similar companies like yours. To keep my presentation to your situation, could you help me understand what specific challenges you have been experiencing?


Option 2: Start with the Results

"Thanks for meeting me, and I am excited to share our experience and how we helped similar companies like yours. Before delving into the intricate technicalities, could you please share your business aspirations in the near future?

What specific business goals do you hope to achieve with the solution you are looking at?

Do not rush into immediately presenting a solution without thoroughly understanding the problem and its nuances.

Step 2: Get out all the problems/challenges

When you establish an open dialogue with your clients, you build rapport and trust, stay curious and encourage them to share their challenges with you.

Instead of immediately trying to solve the first problem, encourage your client to share all their challenges. The risk of addressing the first problem is that you might miss significant opportunities and end up discussing an issue that could be more important.

A simple helpful phrase that you can use is,

"What else"?

These will trigger more reflection from your client.

​When you feel that the list is complete, acknowledge and appreciate your client for sharing the information and then summarise the list of challenges back to them.

Then ask,

"Let's say you were able to address all these issues successfully; would you say that is exactly the solution you need?".

When asked this question, clients sometimes come up with surprising information! Like "Yes, but we need to build the business case, or I need to make a case to my VP".​

Step 3: Prioritise the problems/challenges

After listing all the challenges, ask what their top two challenges are.

Rule of thumb: 80% of the impact is in 20% of the problem. When you prioritise, you can spend that time on the most critical issues for the client.

Step 4: Gather Evidence and Impact

For some reason, salespeople overlook evidence.

Evidence defines problems and measures for success.

This will give you vital data to show why your clients must take action!

Gathering evidence and impact will provide a solid business case and measure success, addressing the fear of messing up!

For example, your client is looking at replacing their existing provider with your new software, and they have raised an issue of their current provider not delivering what it's supposed to provide.

Ask the questions below to understand the evidence and impact:

How do we know it is a problem? By how much?

If so, what are you losing? By how much?

If we solve your problem, how will you measure success?

What would you like it to be?

Now, here's the thing.

When the impact of the problem is significant, you need to ask,

"What has stopped the business from realising the benefit of addressing this problem?"

When the impact is small.

You will realise that it is unimportant or there is no compelling event.

"Sarah, if this problem is just causing you 50k a year, the problem may be cheaper than the solution. Let's say you did nothing; would anyone even care?

You will discover a lot with this question.

The client will either realise and let it go or fight for it and commit to work with you.

Did you lose anything?

You can't lose something you have yet to win!​

Step 5: Explore content and constraints

Understanding evidence and calculating impact is important in helping our clients decide.

Exploring context and constraints is just as important.

How does their project fit into their company's bigger picture?

  • Goals

  • Values

  • Strategies

  • Key Initiatives

  • Political landscape

What factors within the company influence every decision? Each business has unique goals, values, strategies, and key initiatives. How does your opportunity align with these factors? Additionally, how does the political landscape come into play? Do your company and solution align with it?

And if the problem has been going on for a while, the question you need to ask:

Why has the organisation not been able to address these problems before effectively?

If it is a new problem:

Are there any potential obstacles that could hinder the successful implementation of this solution in the future?

Gaining insights from the answers to these questions is crucial and will significantly enhance your preparation for your solution pitch. This valuable information will give you a solid foundation to deliver a compelling and effective presentation.

There are Bad and Good Constraints.

Good Constraints are things clients can't do that you can do for them.

For example, lack of time, no expertise or the right people.

Bad constraints are the factors that hindered their progress in the past and, if left unchanged, will continue to keep them stuck.

Example of Bad Constraints:

  • No budget

  • Can't get Buy-in from the Executives

  • Politics

  • Other more significant problems and priorities

Now, we can unpack with the client and remove the constraints.

Ask and validate with your client:

"I have a question, it seems like even if we have the best possible solution and get you the results you want, it won't happen because ____________________? What should we do? "

Either they will ask for your help, or they stall.

If they stall, one of the following might be happening:

  • You are talking to the wrong people.

  • It is not a real opportunity.

  • Rightly or wrongly, someone already got the deal.

​What are your thoughts on this week's topic?

Next week, I will share the ultimate framework to create and deliver a compelling sales pitch to help you close more deals. Get ready to boost your sales!🚀

Thank you for reading, I appreciate your support!💜


PS. Thought I share this week’s post on LinkedIn.

I would love to see you on LinkedIn if we are not connected yet.

📚Great Read

My friend and leadership communications coach, Jovina Ang, wrote a great piece on how to turn your boss into a sponsor. Jovina spent three years researching career sponsorship for her PhD dissertation. She is also a speaker and author of five books.

More than a mentor, having your boss be your sponsor is so important!


Related Posts

See All

Client meetings that build trust

Ren here… Here’s a mindset for you. What if you can immediately build trust in your first client meeting? How would you approach your client? What do you want your client to feel after meeting you? Ho


bottom of page