Today was a good day. I got a call from a potential customer letting me know that his company has chosen my company as a vendor. I had been waiting for this call quite some time (about a month), regardless I was as exciting as ever to hear the news. Why am I telling you this? Let’s rewind to July of 2013 when I first reach out to the company.
I will start by saying I am naturally not a very patient person, but I am a very patient sales person. It is a learned trait that I struggle with often, especially when it comes to sales. I’ll explain, however, how patience is rewarding if you do it right.
I found my contact with this company through LinkedIn, and made the initial outreach in the beginning of July. Over the following months I had limited success getting an appointment with the contact, so I kept about my business going after one hundred other customers just like this one. Around September, I finally was able to get the contact on the phone. In October we gave a demonstration to his team (ultimately the decision-maker was a part of this group). November passed, a few e-mails here and there, but I remained patient. By December, we had hammered out the details of the partnership. And today, I got the call.
This is not how all sales cycles go, but it is common for companies with Billions (with a capital “B) in revenue to have numerous people involved in the decision. If you are going after big fish, you need to learn how they swim. That means learning up front what their decision schedule is like, and plan accordingly.
There is a very fine line between persistence and annoyance, and if you make your living by procuring new business, you better find that line very quickly. When a large customer admits up-front that they do not plan on making a decision until “x” date, then don’t expect a decision until that date. Stay patient In the meantime, your focus should be on providing all the information about your company that the prospect can handle, and let the sale come to you.
Sometimes you can get lucky, and the customer is ready to act fact. If this is the case, its best to also be quick on your feet. Don’t get into the habit of going at your own pace regardless of the potential customer. Patient sales does not mean lazy sales, their pace is your pace. Try to stay in sync with your prospects and you will reap the benefits time and time again.
So the next big fish you have on the line, reel in fast when he is swimming toward you, and let the drag out when he is swimming away. If you play the line right, you will end up with that big fish in your boat.