Patience vs. Pushy

follow-up relationships Aug 18, 2017

Patience Is Hard.  Knowing When To Follow-Up Can Be Even Harder

Did you like my Wisdom?  If so, please share it with your friends and co-workers so they too can exercise patience that leads to profits .  -Matt


I get asked a variation of this theme all the time, "How long do I wait to call/follow-up/panic with my prospect?" Here's the trick, as business owners we need to understand that every interaction has an outcome. Once we choose to take the initiative in determining that outcome, most of us will then save ourselves a lot of anxiety if we wrap things up with one easy step. Find your place of selling harmony and zen with this week's Windshield Wisdom.

Full Transcript:

I want to take a couple of minutes today to talk about something that seems to be continuously popping up over the last couple of weeks, and that is patience.  Now, I think we can all agree that patience has a pretty important role in sales, as well as in life.  It is probably one of the most under appreciated aspects of a good sales person.  Especially when you've got a boss staring at you.  You've got someone wondering when you are going to bring home that commission check, or that check from your business.  It's a requirement though, and that's what I want to take a couple of minutes to talk about today.

Really what I want to do is start with a story about where this whole thing came from.  I was meeting with a really good friend of mine who is also a consultant, in this case more on the business side, and she had a potential breakthrough client in the Fox Valley.  It was a pretty big deal for her business.  She had secured a 1-on-1 meeting, several of them in fact.  She had presented a proposal to them which they had verbally agreed to, but they hadn't signed on the dotted line yet so it wasn't official.  She said to me, "this is taking a lot longer than it's supposed to.  I feel like I should have a document back by now with a signature on it so we can get going."  In this case my role was to listen, obviously, and to just kind of say, "I understand your anxiety.  I understand where you're coming from, but gosh just take a couple of minutes.  Just relax, and do two things for me.  Number 1, please confirm that you got a verbal commitment.  Do you still think it felt good.  Yes?  Second question I have for you, why have they possibly not gotten back to you yet?"

Herein lies the two lessons from today.  First of all, she made a mistake that a lot of sales people make.  She didn't set any kind of expectation for getting back to them.  It's one of the big rules of closing.  Every meeting has an outcome.  Every time you sit down with somebody has an outcome, and that outcome needs to have a very clear course of action attached to it.  If you don't set that clear course of action, then that's the outcome.  When you're talking with somebody, whether it's a first meeting and there are follow-up steps for after.  Whether it's you have given them a proposal for your breakthrough deal, and you are waiting to see what happens with it.  Set a timeline.  Set a very clear timeline for your expectation of what happens next.  I had a meeting today with one of my clients.  We've been working together for nine months, we're wrapping things up right now, and even at the end of that meeting, at the end of this contract I still had set a very clear expectation of what is going to happen over the next one or two months.

It's a best practice, no matter what you're doing, is to set that expectation, and even more importantly step two in this process is to make sure they agree to it.  Clearly and completely.  Don't tolerate a, "yeah that sounds good."  It is, "yes, I agree Matt.  This is what happens next on this date at this time.  So let's do it."  Or, "Matt, I'm going to hear from you on this date, and this is what I expect of you, and this is what you expect from me by this date and this time."

It's important to have that clarity.  In the case of my friend, all she was waiting for was a signed contract.  While she was losing patience waiting for a signed contract, all the person was doing on the other end was waiting for her legal team.  In this case, their legal team was taking a couple of days longer to get back to her than she thought they were going to.  It was a big organization.  Of course, the contract was going to get run through legal, but because it was my friends first time through this she forgot that step.  She missed that, "It's kind of big company.  They probably have to run it by their lawyers before they can sign.  Maybe there is no reason for me to panic."  All she had to do to know was say, "How long do you think you're going to need to go through this?"  They would have had that conversation if she had said, "OK, so what's our next step?  You have a contract.  Obviously I want to give you time to look at it and think through it, even though we've agreed verbally.  When can I expect a response from you?"  Another way might have been, "When can I expect our next discussion about any concerns you may have?"  Or, "When should we take about this again to make sure we're both still on the same page?"  A thousand variations of that right?  If she had done that, the other person might have said, "I've got to run this through my legal team.  I've done this before.  Typically they get it done in 2 or 3 days, but sometimes it can take up to a week.  Let's see what happens.  No!  Not let's see what happens.  Let's give it a couple of days."

Sorry guys.  See these are live.  Can't you tell.  I don't script these right.  It's not let's see what happens, because if you get a let's see what happens it's not a commitment.  It should be, "It take this amount of time.  If you don't hear from me by this date let's follow-up."  It's a commitment on both parts.  Everybody knows what is expected of them when they leave that appointment.  If you do that your ability to get nervous about these deals, your ability to lose patience, your ability to not know what happens next through the process and where you're at with them diminishes rapidly.

You can have patience when you know what's expected.  Therefore, when they aren't following-up as expected you have the right to have conversations that are a little bit different.  That's important, and that's probably a subject for another Windshield Wisdom.

Thank you very much guys.  As always my main goal is to provide value to you, and give you information that can change the course of your business or your career.  If you have comments or questions, I think I've proven that I always welcome those.  I want those from you, so please share them.  Please share this if you know other people who would enjoy it.  I know I say this every time, but I want to make sure this is a consistent theme from me.  I have been so blessed in my ability to have my business, and do the things that I do.  My main goal, and the reason Sales Math exists, is to help you find happiness and be successful in whatever you choose to do.

Thank you.

Matt Middendorp is a nationally acclaimed speaker and sales coach with over 20 years of experience turning connections into customers and advocates.  In 2013, Matt founded Sales Math, and debuted his “Formula for Success” sales training system to bankers across the country.  From the beginning, Matt’s clients have experienced learning that is fun, meaningful, and makes a difference in the real world.  Today, Matt’s core philosophies of “Learn Together, Do Together, Grow Together” are taught through in-person coaching, online as part of the Cool Bankers Academy, and by his leadership of the Cool Bankers Club Facebook Group.  His clients are making millions based on the confidence and skills gained from learning a sales process tailored to their individual personalities and businesses.  For information about training and workshops visit, call (715) 897-0879, or email Matt personally at [email protected]

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