One specific topic/idea drives everything that I do and has helped me build a strong and successful life and career. The topic/idea is the balance of patience and regret.
In business development and in life we are constantly having to make decisions around what we should be doing, what can probably wait a bit, and what we shouldn’t be doing at all.
For the sake of this blog post, I’ll focus on this balance in the sense of sales and business development.
In this high pressure role, we are constantly confronted with outside pressures. Whether it be your boss, your co-workers, your quota, etc. We are all constantly asked, when is the next thing coming in? “Nice job on that big deal. What are you closing next?” We’ve all heard it.
What these outside pressures don’t understand is that questions like, “What’s next?” can completely throw off what we are trying to accomplish as sales people and force us into making irrational decisions to get quick results. “Oh I didn’t know you wanted me to sell things at this job. I thought I was just here to look at YouTube videos and scroll through LinkedIn all day.” It’s not their fault, though. If questions like, “What’s next?” offend you, get out of this line of work right now. You aren’t meant to be here. These people own the company or they are getting the same question from their boss or their boss’s boss. They depend on you a great deal and that is why they ask you questions like this. It’s your job as a sales person to manage expectations, trust yourself, and develop a process that can handle these type of questions.
That’s where understanding balance and regret comes in. A constant exercise of acting quickly to avoid regret and missing opportunity and not rushing for quick answers that will drive prospects/clients away. While there is no exact science to sales (don’t believe any book that tells you they have the magical key to unlock sales success), there are exercises and traits that can help this balancing act. Here’s the 3 things I focus on to make sure I have success in this balancing act of patience and regret.
- Macro Approach – Build a process that fits a long term approach to sales. My approach is built around a wave system that focuses on specific targets receiving a relevant message at a precise cadence (usually every 4-6 weeks) depending on industry and title. The below image is what I was taught early in my career and it has stuck because of it’s success. This process isn’t built for quick unsustainable success, it is built to develop and grow a deep pipeline with rich relationships that can be fruitful for years and even decades.
- Relationships – By building the aforementioned strong relationships with your prospects and clients, you’ll gain an intrinsic understanding of appropriate timing for a touch base, solution development, and when to go for a close. Through these strong relationships, trust and respect is built, giving you more permission and access.
- Hard Work – Honestly there’s no replacement for hard work. Before the process was fully in place and before key relationships were built, it was just about working my ass off and spending late hours in the office or at home or at the coffee shop building prospect lists, deciphering value propositions, and willing my way into success. Those outside influences notice hard work, and many times that buys you a little more time until the process and relationships come through.
By staying focused on these 3 things, I have built a great trust with myself that what I’m doing is right.
Sure, we all have days when we say something like, “I’m not sure why they haven’t called back with a final answer, boss. I sent over the proposal when they asked and followed up at an appropriate cadence, but still nothing.” By understanding the balance of patience and regret and building a process to support that, you can more regularly answer confidently with a response like, “I’ve sent the proposal over when the prospect and I discussed, and he/she usually gets back to me with a response in a week or less. It’s only been a few days, so I’d expect a response before the end of the week.”
As long as you can give accurate and progressive information more often than not, you’ll be able to manage expectations and you’ll get through some of those rough days/weeks/months, because you confidently know that success will come at a macro level.
So enjoy this high wire act and keep building that successful career!
I should finish this post by giving a majority of credit on this topic to a business hero of mine, Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is someone that I follow fairly closely and someone that I get a lot of inspiration from in a number of my business and sometimes personal ventures. If you don’t know him, you should get to know him as someone that brings true passion to this business.