Learn To Master The Art of Patience
For as long as I can remember patience has never been something that I’ve had much of. One thing I have learned however from my career in professional sales is that patience is a critical success factor. So I thought I would blog about the importance of patience and how it can play a key role in your success in the world of selling IT professional services.
From my experience, there are two core areas (and I am sure you can think of others) in which we as sales people don’t always demonstrate the patience we should in order to maximize our potential. The first area is simply with making sales calls to prospective customers. Most of us tend to just pick up the phone and dial away without any specific goal or strategy for the call. We just dial away until we get a decision maker on the phone. Heck, you can’t close a deal without talking to the customer right? Our thinking goes something like this…”we’ll figure out what to say when they pick up the phone and go from there.” This is often a poor strategy, especially when you are selling IT consulting and staffing services. Why? We sound like every other sales person in the industry because they are all taking the same approach. If we could simply demonstrate some patience by taking the time to properly research the account and the hiring manager we are calling on and have a specific call strategy for the prospect we would be better served in the long run. In all likelihood, the conversation we have with that prospect would be more meaningful for both parties We could ask better questions specific to the customer’s situation and make intelligent comments and suggestions based on our understanding of the customer’s business conditions. Instead, we tend to simply dial away and introduce products, our services and ourselves and ask for orders. How effective has that approach been for you? As I have learned to become more patient over the years I have become convinced that one of the few ways in which we can differentiate ourselves in the IT staffing and consulting industry is the way in which we prepare for our sales calls and introduce ourselves to our prospective customers. And this comes back to having some much needed patience to properly prepare.
The other area where we need to demonstrate patience is within the sales process itself. I don’t know about you, but after I have a consultant interview with a client I’m making umpteen phone calls until I reach the consultant (and then the client) for feedback on the interview and to “close the deal.” As sales people we naturally want to push each deal to closure as quickly as possible. That is just our human nature. As a result however, we tend to put our clients (and consultants) in our sales process and impose our process on the client. I’m not suggesting we just sit back and rely on a strategy of “hope.” Of course we have to pursue the client and initiate contact. Instead of imposing our sales process on our clients however, we should exercise patience by uncovering the client’s interviewing, decision-making and hiring process. When we understand those processes, then we understand the sales process for that particular opportunity. Then we can manage the process like a project with milestones along the way to ensure the “project” continues to move in the right direction. The same thought process could be applied to working with your consultants as well. Have the patience to understand their decision-making process and timeline and together with the candidate and client set milestones with the to ensure you keep the process moving forward.
Even though there are many areas of the country still characterized by a tight candidate market, in these economic times employers are not going to rush into any hiring decisions. And they certainly are not going for the “the candidate has another offer, you have to decide today ultimatum.” So learn to be patient by moving your deals forward in small baby steps instead of going for the close during every client interaction.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.