Managing Indecision Friction

by Joy

Contractors: Have you ever presented a client with a perfectly rational approach to fixing a problem only to have them reject it without any concrete reason? Things grind to a halt, you think they simply can’t be satisfied and you’re ready to give up…except that means taking a financial hit. Here are some strategies for avoiding the friction of indecision.

When your customers just aren’t “feeling it”
Every decision is a product of weighing both logic and feeling. If a reasonable and logical proposal gets rejected, that means it’s not appealing to the customer on another level. Try tuning in to the customer’s impressions. You might say, “I notice you’re having difficulty switching gears. Overall, is this still something you want?” Or, “Is there something you’ve seen or heard about that feels more appealing to you at this point?” Or, conversely, “What about this plan doesn’t appeal to you right now?”

When they lack confidence in their own judgment
Your customers probably aren’t experts in your trade. Without a context by which to measure one thing against another, it’s difficult for anyone to get a feel for the alternatives. If Plan A doesn’t work, make it easier for your customer by focusing on objective points of reference. For example, you might say, “Here are three performance criteria you can use to compare these two products (i.e. warranty, capacity, operating cost). If you have additional requirements, please communicate them.”

When they lose faith in your judgment
If you notice your customers can’t say what they want but definitely don’t want anything you’ve suggested, it’s time to restore the team. Focus solely on the decision-making rationale they find meaningful without judging them. Brainstorm an idea and tell them they’re free to respond in one of three ways:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Acceptance with conditions (list the conditions )
  3. Rejection of the product or proposal along with the documented and measurable criterion used to reject this option

Structure can help bring forward underlying values and yield something constructive to work with.

Sometimes, good customers can get stuck with indecision when things don’t go as planned, and that can lead to friction and costly delays. By asking the right questions, you can restore confidence and devise a plan that will best satisfy your customers.