The huge cost of hesitation

I knew that being hesitant in the sales arena was a no-no, but I didn’t know just how much business it could cost.

I knew that being hesitant in the sales arena was a no-no, but I didn’t know just how much business it could cost.

From my experience, hesitating sales people miss out on about 15 new sales opportunities a month. People who do not hesitate to prospect or make contact with customers are five times more productive than their hesitant colleagues.


I find that most people in business hesitate to make contact with prospective buyers on a regular consistent basis, often leaving prospecting to chance. It is one of the biggest issues facing most businesses when it comes to making sales and staying viable.

If the average sales transaction is worth $800, the estimated income loss monthly of hesitation is $12,000, and the estimated income lost $144,000 a year.


Most people can recognise the immediate cost or lost opportunity of not making a sale, but what if hesitating is a ‘way of life’ in your business at the moment? It could be costing you a whole lot more, financially and emotionally. Here are some of the consequences of prolonged hesitation:



Financial cost of hesitation

  • No new sales revenue coming in.
  • Existing customer business drying up.
  • Losing customers to competitors.
  • Poor margins due to unnecessary discounting.
  • Not getting the business you should gave got.
  • Excessive complaints or returns due to over promising and under delivering.
  • Lost income.
  • Poor brand image.
  • Impaired recruitment.


Emotional cost of hesitation

  • Excessive worrying and anxiety about poor sales revenue results.
  • Doubt about doing this type of work.
  • Lack of sleep and exhaustion.
  • Self doubt about one’s ability to do anything.

You need to work out whether you have a culture of hesitation. Are any of these occurring in your business right now?

  • Making more excuses than sales.
  • Sitting there aggressively waiting for the phone to ring.
  • Wondering why sales aren’t coming in on a more regular basis.
  • Complaining about making cold calls.
  • Lacking confidence to pick up the phone and call or speak to people about your business.
  • Worrying that people might reject you.
  • Feeling ashamed about being in sales.
  • Don’t want to be seen as being too pushy.
  • Too busy doing other things then to sell but not making enough money.
  • Discounting prices all the time.
  • Doing coffee a lot but not making many sales.
  • Saying ‘yes’ when you should have said ‘no’.
  • Not standing up for the value of your business.
  • ‘Over servicing’, at a cost to you or your business.
  • Letting others take advantage of you at your expense.
  • Not asking for referrals.
  • Talking too much and not listening to your customers.

The good news is that hesitant behaviours and feelings you may experience are entirely learned and can by unlearned to help you self promote and make contact. This hesitation is not due to a lack of knowledge, skill, ability or talent.


Begin the journey

  • Become aware of your issues (what’s your pain in the stomach?).
  • Analyse where there is a problem (what’s causing the pain in the stomach?).
  • Admit you need to take responsibility (hardest one of all to be truthful).
  • Make a plan of new activities you need to do to be more proactive.
  • Seek the right help (you may need to talk to experts in this field about building a robust prospecting plan, getting an attitudinal shift to prospecting in your people/business, put in place the right skills training so you know how to prospect and what to say, have a culture review to see if you and your people are harbouring any negative views about selling that could be sabotaging your sales efforts, etc).
  • Take action and make changes.


Sue Barrett, is founder and managing director of BARRETT Pty Ltd, an Australian based sales fitness firm. Author of ‘Sell Like a Woman’. winner of 1997 Telstra and Victorian Government Small Business Award.


For more Sell Like a Woman blogs, click here.




Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.