sales_rejection 880x495

B2B Summit

Why businesses say 'no'

Our Head of B2B Strategy Katherine Almond will unveil our latest piece of original research at B2B Marketing Summit in London.

In every successful B2B sale there are vendors that failed to make it over the finish line. What if we could analyse these transactions, work out where they went wrong and what can be learned? Katherine and her team have done just that.

Her recent qualitative project, “Why businesses say ‘no’”, has seen her dissect six different B2B buying decisions across technology, industrial, financial and professional services. She interviewed stakeholders in the purchasing businesses, focussing on the suppliers that made it onto the shortlist but were ultimately rejected.

She uncovered some expected, and some surprising themes:

  • The interplay between intellect and emotion at different stages of the process
  • The power of an off-hand comment that can derail a bid without your ever knowing
  • The surprising subtlety and diversity of influencers
  • The revealing language consistently used to describe purchase decisions.

Suppliers on a shortlist usually have little to separate them in terms of product quality and service delivery; it’s small details and decisions associated with both head and heart (or gut) that cause a derailment.

Geography, culture, ease of implementation and previous investment were among the analytical factors cited by interviewees, while more emotive contributors like attitude, communication and relationships featured far more prominently than we expected.

Many of these derailing factors and behaviours are easily identified and avoided, though we suspect everyone will recognise at least one amongst their own new business processes.

Katherine has drawn up a number of directives for sales and marketing teams, taking these insights into account to increase the chances of avoiding a ‘no’.

We’ll make the research results and conclusions widely available later this month, but for now, the only place you’ll get the full insight is at B2B Marketing Summit in London this week. If you’re already going, be sure to catch Katherine’s session in the ‘Insight’ track, “Why businesses say ‘no’”.

If you’re not going, tickets are still available here.

We’ll be giving away £10,000 of B2B Marketing expertise in a special B2B Summit prize draw too; come and visit us at the Bray Zone to enter on the day. Or enter remotely by emailing us at, with the subject line #Summit2016, tell us the problem you’d like us to solve.

Say hello...

Let’s talk, chat, email, however you like to make things happen.
01598 760700 or email

More ways to contact us