active waiting and is deadly to business

What are you waiting for? Are we patient or wasting time?

We must all wait for things to happen. This is especially true in selling. We present our products or our services and we must wait for an answer from a buyer.

In business we must wait for the payment to arrive, the business climate to change or for approval from someone else.

Wait! Wait! Wait!

Waiting is frustrating but it is part of life. Unfortunately, everyone else’s agenda is not the same as ours. In business and in sales waiting is part of the game. Like cooks with dozens of pots on the stove – all on different levels of heat – waiting for something to boil. If we have enough pots this is not a problem as while waiting for one to boil we are tending to another and with many pots there is never long to wait.

The problem with many salespeople and managers is that they only ever have one project or one serious prospect at a time. They spend all of their time watching one pot!

This is active waiting and is deadly to business!

Salespeople do the prospecting work, find a strong potential lead and make their sales pitch. Some will then move into waiting mode where nothing happens. Oh, sure they may look busy, organizing and going through the motions but what they are really doing is nothing. They are simply waiting. Waiting for the prospect to make a decision or take some action.

Managers do the same thing. Perhaps waiting for a cheque or a new line of credit or for a client to walk through the door so that they are able to move on to the next thing. We fixate on our project even when it doesn’t call for our attention. We busy ourselves with the particular round of activities collectively known as “waiting for” something to happen or someone to make a decision. When we fixate, there is, at least for the moment, nothing left to do. And still we go on waiting. In order to accomplish the apparently impossible task of keeping busy when there’s nothing to do, we invent completely useless activities that have reference to the goal, although they don’t advance us toward it in the least.

It scarcely needs to be pointed out that waiting is a waste of time. Indeed, this is often referred to as “killing time”. This felony is routinely committed when further progress depends on a change of circumstances that we can’t ourselves bring about – when we have to wait for someone else to make a decision or complete some action.

In circumstances like these, we stare at clocks, twiddle our thumbs, chat at the water cooler, and organize our already organized files. These activities sustain the illusion that we’re still laboring at the stalled enterprise. Our clock watching is felt magically to keep time moving, and the force of our wishes to keep everything in active mode.

When we can’t do something useful to advance our aim, we would do better to forget about it and turn to something else. Any amount of value is preferable to merely killing time.

Killing time is not patience it is procrastination. Some things are worth waiting – a person to learn, a situation to fully develop. Everything needs time to grow and nature needs time. There is time and a season for everything. But, that is not an excuse for laziness or fear.

While we are waiting for a customer to walk into the shop we can clean or redo the store window display. While we are waiting for a client to make a decision we can talk to other potential clients and send out a broadcast fax or email newsletter or call our list of inactive customers.

A well design sales system, however, will prevent the above from happening in the first place. Regularly scheduled activities when coordinated that will drive the rest of the process. A monthly newsletter emailed, a set number of prospects called or visited each day, a set number of lead generation activities takes place each week. Those activities generate inquiries. Each lead gets a sales pitch and a certain number converted into sales. That is a system!

This is exactly the reason retail stores pay crazy rents in busy shopping malls. The shopping malls deliver the traffic, the store uses an appealing presentation to bring the mall traffic through their doors and the store staff sells! That is the essence of a sales system.

The alternative is waiting for customers!

My experience is that most sales people and most businesses simply wait. They may not look like they are waiting but in fact they are. People are very good at looking busy and killing time. If lucky, nobody notices that the salesperson is really just an order-taker who is only depending on fate to find sales.

Ask yourself what actions you and your salespeople regularly and automatically take to drive business. Or are you just waiting – killing time until the universe takes some action on its own?