Navigating the Complex Landscape of Sales: Unveiled Insights from "The Jolt Effect." 

Overcoming inertia in the buying decision is the single biggest challenge facing every SaaS company today

Navigating the Complex Landscape of Sales: Unveiled Insights from "The Jolt Effect." 


  • Matt Dixon, author of "The Jolt Effect," addresses startling statistics from a global study, revealing that a substantial 40-60% of a salesperson's pipeline often culminates in a no-decision outcome, posing significant challenges to sales productivity.
  • This effect is seen as much in high-volume, low-value sales as in low-volume, high-value enterprise sales.
  • It's a human problem, Matt sheds light into customer behaviour and decision-making processes, that every sales leader should understand 
  • But, organisations that exhibit JOLT behaviours, exhibit win rates nearing 60%, significantly outperforming their average counterparts with a 26% win rate. 
  • The fear of failure, rather than resistance to change, stands as the primary obstacle to decisive customer action.

In a recent presentation for Notion Capital, Matt Dixon, author of The JOLT Effect and Dan Smith, Chief Learning Officer, Winning By Design shared critical insights gleaned from a global study of millions of sales calls. An alarming statistic revealed that a significant portion, between 40% and 60%, of a typical salesperson's pipeline ends in a no-decision scenario. Dixon highlighted the implications of such non-decisions, emphasising the substantial productivity loss experienced by sales teams and entire go-to-market operations.

NB. Matt’s research, initiated in March 2020 amid the global shift to virtual sales processes, collected and analysed an extensive dataset of two and a half million sales conversations from diverse industries worldwide.

The heart of Dixon's revelation and Winning By Design’s teachings lies in the reasons behind dreaded “no-decision” outcomes and critically the strategies employed by high-performing salespeople to counteract them: high-performing salespeople exhibit win rates close to 60%, a notable contrast to the 26% win rates observed among their average counterparts. 

1. The Crucial Role of Customer Hesitation

Dixon emphasised that, contrary to common misconceptions, the variables contributing to high performance were related to the adept handling of moments of customer hesitancy. These moments, occurring after customers expressed dissatisfaction with the status quo and signalled intent to move forward, turned out to be pivotal in influencing win rates.

“Indecision is a human challenge. It hampers success, especially in achieving high win-rates. Compounded by the tendency to optimise decisions based on loss aversion, it casts a pervasive shadow on the entire world of SaaS.”  Matt’s book should be required reading for every SaaS Leader. Stephen Millard.

2. The Three-Act Play of B2B Sales

To provide context, Dixon outlined a simplified three-act play that mirrors the dynamics of most B2B sales processes. Beginning with 1) the customer's status quo, sales professionals work to guide them towards 2) a shared vision, ultimately culminating in 3) the execution of a deal. However, Dixon pinpointed a critical stage in this journey where deals often falter—the period between expressed interest and actual commitment.

3. Navigating the Critical Stage: Where Deals Teeter on the Edge

Traditionally, sales training has focused on revisiting and overcoming objections related to the status quo. However, Dixon challenged this long standing approach, revealing that it might not be the only reason for deal slippage. He highlighted that customers, even after expressing initial interest, may start reevaluating concerns, raising objections, and expressing uncertainty about the proposed solution.

4. Challenging Tradition - the carrot and the stick

Dixon explored how most salespeople typically respond by attempting to reinforce the value proposition by the tried and tested carrot and stick techniques. The "carrot approach" - reiterating the positive aspects and benefits of the solution, emphasising the value proposition. If this proves ineffective, sales professionals may resort to the "stick" approach, highlighting potential drawbacks or risks associated with not moving forward.

5. Overcoming Hesitation

In essence, Dixon's insights challenge conventional wisdom in sales training, urging a reevaluation of how sales professionals address moments of customer hesitation.

Matt’s research exposes three primal fears—valuation problems, information overload, and outcome uncertainty and challenges the belief that fear-based tactics are the panacea for overcoming resistance. The central theme emerges: fear of failure, rather than resistance to change, stands as the primary obstacle to decisive customer action.

In short, while everyone dislikes making the wrong decision, the fear of making an active mistake often outweighs the regret of failing to take beneficial action. As Matt explains, errors of commission and errors of omission are powerful drivers: customers fear making a bad purchase (commission) more than they fear missing out on a great one (omission).

Errors of omission and commission present distinct challenges, requiring strategic interventions. This challenge spans diverse business models, from high volume product led sales to low volume enterprise deals. Again, this is a human problem, and one we need to understand.  Stephen Millard, Notion Capital.

6. The Jolt Effect.

Central to this transformative approach is the "Jolt Effect," a strategic playbook devised by high-performing sales professionals. 

This four-step framework—Judging indecision, Offering recommendations, Limiting exploration, and Taking risk off the table—serves as a guiding beacon for navigating the complexities of customer decision-making. 

It marks a departure from traditional methodologies, urging sales enthusiasts to become adept buyer's agents, instilling confidence and guiding customers from intent to decisive action.

In essence, Matt’s work underscores the imperative for sales professionals to transcend conventional tactics. It advocates becoming empathetic guides, understanding and addressing the core fears hindering customer commitment. The narrative encourages a paradigm shift, emphasising that success lies not just in overcoming resistance but in becoming a trusted ally in the intricate journey of customer decision-making.

To overcome indecision, streamline decision-making by reducing cognitive load and limiting choices. Prudently managing risk, making recommendations, and reducing options empowers decision-makers to move fast.


The best-sellers are masters of human psychology, they decode the intricacies of customer hesitation. "Decoding the Art of Sales Mastery" serves as a beacon, offering insights into the intricate terrain of fear, guiding practitioners toward unprecedented success in the dynamic world of business. The burning platform concept, the Jolt Effect, and the nuanced understanding of customer fears redefine the landscape of sales mastery, presenting a fresh perspective that challenges the very foundations of traditional approaches.

you also may like to read
No items found.
you also may like to read

Get the latest from Notion Capital. Sign up to our newsletter.