This past weekend I was at my brother’s house in Milwaukee where the temperatures were unseasonably cold. I kept grabbing a Cubs sweatshirt from his closet. One of those perfectly broken-in sweatshirts that you would love to accidently wear home. I pulled all the sales moves. Building a relationship with the sweatshirt, commenting on it’s great fit. Planting the seed about how it would be nice to have. And finally going in for the ask, “can I borrow this for a while?” To which he said, “Ya, just take it, I don’t wear that one anymore anyway.” Seriously, it was that easy.
If only all sales cycles were so slick. The truth is that there isn’t a scientific formula to it, no matter how many books are written, seminars created, or trainings given to say otherwise. The element of chance is still forever prevalent. And while, I may believe that chance is just divine timing, it doesn’t make the challenge of lengthy sales cycles easier. The unknowns of sales cycles can be brutal.
So, what do you do during this brutality?
- Trust the Timing: Some sales happen in an instant, some take years, and sometimes the sure thing NEVER happens despite loads of work. I’ve had clients take nearly a year to finally decide they will move forward with coaching and hire me. During a long sales cycle like that I will check-in and just let them know that I’m here when they become ready and/or decide. I don’t make them feel pressured or get pushy. Trusting divine timing takes no work on my part yet is often the most difficult. Why is it so hard to trust in life’s timing? We all have those moments where we know that the path unfolds as it should, yet we still have a hard time trusting.
- Distract Yourself with Business Beneficial Stuff: When the trusting feels impossible, distract yourself with something that benefits your personal development and your business. Watch that podcast that you saved 6 months ago. Go to a coffee shop and read that book on business accounting and build those spreadsheets. Do the work you don’t want to do but will be darn glad is complete when the sales start coming in.
- Build Relationships Just Because: Remember those first adulthood jobs that we all took until something better came along. We made friends and connections with no agenda. We weren’t following career strategies, corporate promotion paths, or starting our own companies yet. We were just living and getting to know people. What happens if we lift all the pressure of networking to just getting to know people better on a consistent basis?
- Believe It: I worked for this wonderful entrepreneur for a short time who always believed in the next sale. I didn’t have the stomach for that level of uncertainty back then and whenever my stomach twists into knots today, it’s not uncommon for me to think of my old boss and his unwavering belief. The crazy calls, the impossible potential clients, the strangest connections … he believed in it all. Sometimes he got burned and sometimes he had huge wins. It all always came back to belief and the love of a great sale.
- Prospect More During a Promising Sales Cycle: Once you begin those exciting talks with a great potential client, prospect more than usual. You are super energized by the potential of this new client that those good vibes are going to be attractive to other potential clients. It’s a great defensive move if it doesn’t work out OR if you start to feel needy or clingy towards this ideal prospect.
Enjoy the process. The sales cycle is part of the journey, another metaphor for all the good things in life. If it were too easy, it wouldn’t be as gratifying when the business happens.