The Importance of Patience in Sales

Gain valuable insights into your prospect’s business by practicing patience and giving them time to respond.

September 8, 2016

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We all know that patience is a virtue—and nowhere is that more true than in the frantic, deadline-oriented, sink-or-swim world of sales. Yes, being a successful sales rep means hitting your quota on time—but it also means having the patience to see things through in the long term.

Patience applies to virtually all aspects of sales, but here we’ll focus on a few of the most important. They each basically boil down to the same simple idea: listening to your prospects, and providing them with the time, space, and silence necessary to understand their unique needs, challenges, and goals.

Understanding Your Prospects

A better understanding of your prospects’ needs is the beginning of a successful selling relationship, and it all begins with listening. You can’t show your buyers how you’ll add value and solve their problems unless you actually understand their challenges. You need to take the time to hear them out.

Usually, sales reps enter conversations having prepared relevant questions, a solid value proposition, and a well-oiled sales pitch. But if you throw all of that at your prospect at once without taking the time to listen to their needs, you’ll end up doing more harm than good.

Instead of needling them, you can gather plenty of intelligence through social selling tactics: follow their activity online, see what they’re sharing, and discover what’s most relevant to them.

Silence is Golden

Salespeople are excellent communicators, but in certain situations, those same communication skills actually prevent you from gaining insights. Most sales reps find silence uncomfortable during calls, and quickly look to fill it. However, experts suggest that allowing for occasional pauses and lulls in conversation actually lets your prospect to formulate better answers—giving you the information you need to sell to them more effectively.

“The average person, after asking a question, waits no more than 2 to 3 seconds before rephrasing it, answering it themselves, or moving on to another topic,” says Jill Konrath, sales strategist and author. But according to Konrath, “research shows people need 8 to 10 seconds to formulate the start of their answer. Once they get talking, they come up with more ideas, firm up their thinking, and gain additional clarity.”

Patience Matters Online, Too

Though patience and silence are powerful tools in person-to-person interactions, they’re equally important when it comes to online messaging and social selling. However, the challenges are slightly different. For example, you might become frustrated when prospects don’t immediately respond. When you do get a response, you may be tempted to fire something back to get the ball rolling, without carefully considering the strategy of your messaging.

In both situations, take a step back and assess the situation realistically. Remember that a multi-threading strategy can help you to avoid these problems altogether. When you focus on multiple stakeholders for a given account, you won’t be as reliant on any individual’s responsiveness. From there, a more patient approach will come naturally.

In sales, it’s only natural to move quickly—after all, time is money. But remember that whenever you’re interacting with prospects, a little bit of extra patience can go a long way.

For more great tips on getting through to your prospects, download the Sales Prospecting Toolkit .