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It's the client's timeline - not ours.

A very frustrated salesperson contacted me recently. It was about six weeks after he and his team had presented in a very competitive finals presentation. Immediately after the presentation they were given positive feedback from the prospect and were quite optimistic that the deal would close. He did the appropriate follow-up and was told to “sit-tight”. He asked all the right questions to see if he could find out what the hold-up was. It seemed to have nothing to do with the deal itself. He was beyond annoyed and was calling to ask what he should do and shared several ideas that he had - all involving going back to the prospect. I knew if he went back again, he was at risk of crossing the line between being attentive and being annoying.

I empathized with him, as I have been in similar situations myself – and it is frustrating! You want to pop that champagne bottle NOW. The problem is, that this is our need, not the client's need. From my objective vantage point, I could see that the needs of this salesperson to close, were trumping the needs of the client to hold off. I encouraged him to refrain from taking any action. He did, and about a month later, the deal closed.

We should certainly be diligent in our follow-up and creative in helping a deal move forward. But sometimes, when we have done all that we can, we have to be patient and remind ourselves that this is the client's timeline - not ours. I have seen deals lost in the final hour because the client has become frustrated with the salesperson trying to rearrange his priority list. So, sometimes, as hard as it is, the best strategy is to sit tight.

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