5 observable behaviors preventing a sale from closing and how to overcome them

I recently watched a video posted by sales expert Joe Girard, founder of Change Grow Achieve. In this insightful post, Joe speaks about the need for people in sales to consider methods to help people through change. 


A tool that I use frequently in continuous improvement is the change matrix. In over a decade of leading business transformation projects, programs and portfolios in a Fortune 500 business I have found this simple tool invaluable in leading change. I believe that this tool is equally important to the sales community. If we simplify both disciplines to their constituent parts then we’ll quickly see that both are focused on motivating a change from a current state to some defined future state. From the perspective of sales, this is the change in a client or customer from their current state to a state of using the product or service you are selling. 

The change matrix describes five observable resistances to change and defines the root cause of each resistance. The five observable resistances are confusion, anxiety, resistance, frustration, and false starts. We’ll briefly cover each of them and their root cause.


Observing confusion indicates that there is not a shared VISION. There must be some mutual ground to work from…the sales person and the customer must agree that there is a pain point and a possible solution. Without those pieces in place confusion will follow.


If the customer is missing the SKILLS needed to use the solution then you may observe anxiety. They may believe that they are missing skills that they actually do not even need. When observing anxiety take the time to understand what skills are missing and address those skills. They may be covered in your product or service, or they may reveal an opportunity to cross-sell a complimentary product or service.


Observing resistance typically indicates a lack of INCENTIVE. The customer may believe that the return on investment is not sufficient to justify the pain of implementing the product or service. Make no mistake here…change is uncomfortable and introduces uncertainty. Take the time to really understand the pain involved and how your product or service is worth the effort.


Customers that lack the needed RESOURCES will often appear frustrated. The customer may believe they have a pain and that your product or service can help them overcome it, but if they lack the resources then they will understandably be frustrated. The missing resource could be time, people, or money. Do not assume that the missing resource is financial. 

False Starts

Deals starting, falling apart, and starting again may be missing an ACTION PLAN on the part of the salesperson or the customer. Understand the customer needs and help them develop an action plan if needed. This may be the difference between closing a deal and ending up in the dreaded indecision cycle.

The change matrix for identifying the root cause of resistance.

The change matrix for identifying the root cause of resistance.

The change matrix is an excellent change leadership tool with proven results in the world of continuous improvement. By understanding the root cause of these five observable behaviors a salesperson could overcome the resistance that is preventing a sale. The attached table is a handy guide that you can print to help remember the resistance and the observed behavior.


Attila Dobai is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Project Management Professional (PMP). He holds an Advanced Master’s Certificate from Villanova University in Lean Six Sigma with a special concentration in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence.

He has 14-years of experience in a Fortune 500 business leading international continuous improvement projects, programs, and portfolios. He has been interviewed as a thought leader and written about continuous improvement in media such as the Gemba Academy podcast and the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

Attila is available for comment on continuous improvement, business intelligence and analytics, and strategy execution. He can be reached by email: Attila@Dobai.com or by visiting Dobai.com.