I just googled ‘top sales skills’. In the first page of entries from various experts and sales sites, not one of them listed ‘patience’. I am certain they would agree this is a vital skill and yet they haven’t listed it. Why is that?

Patience is a virtue – especially in sales

Perhaps the skill of patience is underestimated. Maybe they think we all have patience so it’s not worth mentioning. Or perhaps it is a more passive activity and, as we salesfolk usually tend to be activators, we bypass patience. We get impatient with it.

However, without developing your patience you are likely to lose sales and miss leads. Let’s have a look at that.

The longer game reaps better return

To go from prospecting through to a sale and subsequently a renewal you need patience. Not patience on its own, but it is required. To pursue your ideal client, you are going to need to communicate with them over a length of time. This could be any length of time, I have personally pursued leads over 5 years that have finally bought. Over the time you are patiently pursuing your client, you have the wonderful opportunity of building a rapport with them. You are nurturing a relationship. And this takes longer for some than it does for others. If you need to choose between having the sale forced out of them now and having a long relationship, go for the latter. The longer game reaps better return.

Don’t forget – you may not know everything yet – you are judging their pain points and needs on what they have revealed to you – which isn’t always the whole story. Develop a rapport, gain trust, add value and be professionally persistent.

This is not to say that you don’t progress the relationship at each communication point. Every interaction you have has a value. Patience is needed to progress at the buyer’s pace as it is their journey. Respect their pace, but you can use each interaction to move forward, perhaps by finding out more of their pain points that you can help with; how you can offer value to them (via a link or idea or something external), or find out what is stopping them from buying now, or if other stakeholders are involved that maybe you need to talk with. No communication is a waste of time, all of them lead to better relationships with your prospect and eventual buyer.

Between a deadline and a client

How do you practice patience?

  • Realize that they have their own world. Put yourself in their shoes. For example, accountants will be flat out at the end of tax year. Shop owners will be busy during holiday season. Hotels will not have time for you during the summer.
  • Take a breath. Don’t just react – actively listen and use your brain, don’t just push forward the sale.
  • Realize that being impatient is adding to your stress, and making you sound a little desperate, is that what you want them to pick up on?
  • Don’t answer your own questions.
  • Don’t interrupt – usually we jump in at an awkward silence, they may be thinking!
  • Don’t just list your features, you haven’t yet discovered what they need, the features you list could be totally irrelevant. Once you know their pain point don’t jump straight in, help them work it out.
  • Ask diagnostic questions so you can lead them to the answer. Ben Franklin said: ’People are best convinced by reasons they themselves discover’.
  • Realize the difference between persistence and pushiness.
  • Don’t just communicate to tick a box – develop a genuine interest in your prospects, relationship-build.
  • Remember that they do not know your timetable. Your deadline makes no difference to them. You need to work to their timetable.

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