Here are 5 things you can do every day to practice patience and improve your decision making in sales.
Remaining patient in today’s chaotic and fast-paced society is next to impossible. With a quick tap of a screen we’re all exposed to an infinite amount of options, all of which promise us a better and more fulfilling life.
The opportunities are endless, and the possibilities exhilarating. Don’t like where you’re working? No problem — jump online and get access to a hundred more companies! Want to start a new relationship? Easy — jump online and meet a dozen more people! Hate your job after one month? Don’t stress – jump online and find a ton of hot startups looking for people just like you! You get my point.
Can You Really “Hack” Your Way Out of Linear Career Growth?
The growing group of 20- and 30-somethings (of which I’m a member) who are smart, ambitious, and all-too-eager. Eager to quit whatever it is they’re doing right now to get promoted, acquired, or make more money somewhere else.
Although these individuals come in different forms — from buttoned-up investment bankers to scrappy sales professionals — one thing is consistent.
They just won’t wait.
Taking great pride in failing fast and increasingly looking for ways to “hack” their success in the shortest possible time frame, this group tries to exchange predictable linear growth for an exponential trajectory.
Why is this happening? According to a great article by Daniel Gulati, “Facebook is Making Us Miserable”.
He suggests that there’s a digital comparison trap that we’ve all fallen into. All we need to do is hop onto our favorite social media app to find our friends, colleagues, and idols all living their perfect lives. Image after image of the best jobs, cars, vacations, social statues litter our feeds. As a result we are all forced to compare ourselves to each other, ultimately making us feel inadequate and dissatisfied.
I believe that the vast majority of us are smart enough to understand that what we’re seeing and reading represent 1% of these individuals real lives, but the brain is a sneaky thing. The more we expose ourselves to this information the more real it becomes. Before we know it we feel like we can, and MUST, do better. Enter bad decisions.
Patience and Decision Making in Sales
The same applies to sales. In addition to being empathetic to the needs and desires of your customers and prospects, it’s imperative that you remain patient as well.
In my experience, nothing will kill a deal faster than not giving your client enough space to make a sound and thoughtful decision. Now this doesn’t mean that they should own the timeline or your sales meeting agenda — that’s your job.
You absolutely don’t want to lose control, but you also don’t want to give the impression that you’re desperate or, even worse, inconsiderate. Additionally, impatience will cause you to make poor decisions.
How impatience can in fact, kill the deal for you
Case in point, when I was a young lad slanging software to lawyers, I had one law firm that I wanted to upgrade so badly. At first the deal was running very smoothly. I fully understood the needs of the customer, and they understood the value that we were providing.
It felt like things were destined to happen — all I needed was the damn signature. So I waited. And I waited and I waited. Before I knew it I was a complete mess.
I couldn’t sleep I was so paranoid that it wasn’t going to come in. It got to a point where I even took my damn laptop on my honeymoon in case I needed to work on the deal. Long story short, the sale eventually closed but literally at half the original size.
In fact, we actually lost money on the deal, and all because I wasn’t patient or confident enough. Stupid.
Impatience is something that I struggle with every day, but with enough focus and dedication I’ve been able to deal with it.
Below are some strategies that I’ve incorporated into my life and that have helped me become more patient.
- Break a sweat (no, really)
- Eliminate (or at least mitigate) all social distractions
- Set your goals (and plan for them)
- Start a gratification journal
1) Break a Sweat (No, Really)
In my experience, I’ve been the most impatient when I’m not exercising consistently.
Typically what this means is that I’m working too hard and not allocating enough time for myself and my mental wellbeing. As a result I tend to become very anxious, ultimately leading to poor cognitive behavior and decision making.
However, when I exercise regularly I’m a much more thoughtful and rational human being (just ask my wife!). Getting out for a 30-minute run during lunch allows me to clear my head and to reduce stress.
When I’m in a good state of mind I’m able to remain patient and approach each decision with peace and ease.
2) Eliminate (Or at Least Mitigate) All Social Distractions
My team makes fun of me about this constantly, but I don’t have a Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram account.
The only social media website that I use is LinkedIn (and that’s hard enough to manage!). I made this decision years ago (after I realized how distracting Mindspace was. know, I’m super old..)
It’s been one of the best that I’ve made as it pertains to me remaining patient. As I mentioned earlier, we are all pressured constantly by social media to portray a perfect life, and in my humble opinion it’s not helpful or healthy.
Comparing yourself to other people’s unrealistic lives will only result in you feeling like s**t about yourself and your current situation. Thus causing you to make stupid decisions. I’ve made the deliberate choice to eliminate this variable from my equation and it’s been awesome.
Life is already so damn hard to get right — why make it harder on yourself?
3) Set Your Goals (and Plan for Them)
The quickest way to feel impatient about something is by not fully understanding what you want in the first place or not appreciating what it’s requires to achieve it.
In my experience, not having clear goals and a plan on how to get there can make one feel anxious and unsettled, resulting in irrational and erratic behavior. This is exactly what caused me to leave the hot startup that I referenced earlier in the article.
I had clear goals (a promising sales career ladder, financial stability, etc.). But I did not fully understand or appreciate what it was going to take to get there.
I was looking for the easiest path (aka. shortcut), and it completely backfired. My better judgement was clouded by my impatience.
Full disclosure — I suck at meditating.
I’ve tried so many times to get into it, but I find it very difficult to remain focused. Maybe because I’m impatient.
All kidding aside, meditation has a ton of benefits!
- Its ability to teach you how to breathe calmly and to loosen up.
- Learning how to take deep, long breaths throughout the day is incredibly helpful and allows you to lower your heart rate and anxiety levels.
- The same applies to remaining loose and limber.
Personally I’ve found that standing at your desk can help with this a lot. Ultimately, it’s important to get to a place where you feel relaxed and comfortable. It’s only in this state of mind that you can make rational and productive decisions.
5) Start a Gratification Journal
Similar to setting goals and creating a clear plan to achieve them, it’s also incredibly important to recognize all of the positive things that we have in our lives.
If you’re like me you focus on all of the s**t that’s going wrong and tend to forget everything that is going well in your life and career.
This is bad. Why?
Because by doing so you are creating unnecessary anxiety and stress in your life. When you’re anxious and stressed you make stupid decisions that are a result of being impatient. Don’t do this.
Instead take time every day, week, weekend, whenever and write down what you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be anything major. Maybe you got an awesome response from a prospect or your boss gave you a nice complement. Or it’s the simple fact that you have a great job at a great company where you work with great people.
Just write it down and internalize it. I guarantee that it will make you feel better about your current situation and it will cause you to remain relaxed and happy about your current situation.
Keep Things in Perspective, Focus on the Task at Hand
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m naturally a very impatient person and as a result have made some very poor decisions in my life and career. I’ve left a very successful startup (and multiple thousands of options) to join an even smaller organization that promised me fame and fortune. Ironically, the startup got acquired just a year later and the company that I joined turned out to be a complete bust.
I’ve also switched majors too soon in undergrad because of my impatience and literally changed the course of my life without even knowing it (I should have been a doctor!) Lastly, I’ve lost deals, and a lot of money. I was too eager to close the sale when I knew all along that I was making poor decisions.
If you suffer from being impatient this is my plea to you — give the above strategies a real try and I promise you that it gets easier.
This is coming from one of the most impatient people on the face of this planet. Ambitious people usually are this way, but the good news is that you can remain driven in everything that you do if you have the right mindset and priorities.
Just keep things in perspective and focus on the task at hand, not on what you “could” or “should” be doing. #SeizeTheDay
Also published on Medium.