Last week my wife and I welcomed a new baby girl to our family. Her official due date was on a Saturday. Saturday came and went and she did not arrive.

I woke up Sunday morning wondering, would she come today? Monday came, and again, I spent most of my day wondering if she would show up. I wanted the big event to happen. I wanted the deal to be done.

Here’s the thing: she would come when she was good and ready. A few more days for her meant nothing, but for me it was agonizing and all I thought about. She didn’t know me yet, and just didn’t care about my timeline. Her timeline was more important.your customer doesn't care

I fell into a classic trap that I have warned many sales reps about: your customer doesn’t care about you (or your schedule). 

Like my daughter, they have more important things to worry about and will buy when they are ready.

I am not suggesting a good salesperson can’t push someone over the edge, but the prospect needs to be at least almost ready to buy. It’s a fine line between staying on top of a prospect and peppering them with annoying calls and emails.

I like to err on the side of calling too much rather than too little, but here are some things to consider to not annoy your customer.

Your customer doesn’t care that it’s the end of your quarter

It can put a bad taste in your customer’s mouth to call them up begging for a purchase order so you can hit your accelerators. This can indeed work, but really think about whether you have a good rapport with your customer. If your customer indicated that they are moving forward you can mention to them that a one day difference has a big impact to you, but be sure the deal is closing. If it’s not in the bag, a “me me me” call can jeopardize the sale.

Your customer is not on the same timeline as you

As a sales rep, when you are close to closing a deal you think about it every day. If you left your prospect a voice mail on Friday and they didn’t call you back Monday morning you think there must be something wrong with them. You will stare at the task in your CRM wondering “should I call them again“? Reality check: although the most important thing in the world to you is receiving a call back on Monday, waiting until Thursday is no big deal to your customer. This is especially true if you are early in the sales cycle.

Your customer wants your help, not your desperation phone calls

When a sales person calls me and says they are “just checking in,” I want to hang up the phone. Try to add value every single time you interact with a customer. The “just checking in” phone call is clearly all about the sales rep and not the customer. Spend 5 minutes and find something helpful for your customer. Send them a news article you know they will like. I am not suggesting you beat around the bush and not act like you are selling something, but early in a long sales cycle focus on building a relationship by being helpful.

The takeaway

I have said it before, but I believe very strongly that a sales rep needs to think like a buyer and not like a seller.

Your managers will love the improvement in forecasting when you think this way and you will likely build better relationships and win more business.

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Shaun Ricci

COO at Ideal
Shaun Ricci is a Canadian entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Ideal. Shaun served as Co-Founder and COO of Field ID until it was acquired in December 2012. Shaun’s accomplishments include spots on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists as well as the 2012 Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Shaun is also an active writer, documenting his wins and losses while building his startup sales team.