Jason Havens got a meeting with me last month. It took him two years. It was a much needed wake-up call.
Jason is a project manager that helps companies with interior fit-outs. Every few months, Jason would e-mail me valuable updates on a client of mine that he was working with – i.e. when the renovations were starting, were they under/over budget, was my client happy, etc. After going back and forth via email for two years (some of which I did not reply to), we finally met in March over coffee. The next day, I was already thinking of other clients that I could possibly introduce to Jason. That is successful sales. Two years of value, persistence, a simple request to meet, and the beginning of a relationship and potential partnership.
Our world is obsessed with speed, productivity hacks, a quick fix to get rich or get in shape. Yet despite the sexiness of speed, only a select few see its benefits (i.e. the 23-year-old who sells her company for millions of dollars only three years after launching it.) For the vast majority of us, and especially when developing relationships or building a business, speed is misleading because the world doesn’t work like that. Instead, slow is human.
Think about it. On the most micro level who you are is something that has slowly developed and been ever so slightly changing over the course of your life. Love at first sight? Perhaps, but usually love slowly develops as two beings get to know each other better. Business relationships, like the one Jason was starting with me? He was successful because he was slow and took the time to develop our relationship. The alternative, going fast and asking for a meeting right away without developing goodwill and providing value, would not have worked. Today, Jason is further ahead because of his patience.
As I begin to focus more on business development again, I am keeping Jason and the power of long-term thinking in mind. In some sense, the business of sales is a numbers game; the more one prospects, the higher his chances of luck and getting a meeting right away. But luck is not a strategy. Instead, my team and I are focusing our efforts on persistent, long-term deliverance of value to clients, prospects and our networks. How does that look? For starters, we’re doubling down on organization. We’re setting up a system so that everything is tracked and relationships with prospects are carefully nurtured with their needs and time in mind. We still ask to meet when we initially reach out, but if there is no need, we put our exchange into our database and set a reminder to follow up (just like Jason did with me.) We’re staying active in the market and meeting daily as a team to consider what information is relevant for which prospects/clients/people. We’re then e-mailing and calling them with that information to demonstrate our capabilities and seriousness in ultimately serving them one day. The focus is on value.
Regardless of one’s profession, a patient outlook that prioritizes adding value and works within an organized framework will lead to a successful career and meaningful relationships. Speed is still important on a day-to-day level (i.e. we must get back to clients when we promised,) but strategically slowing down at the right times can propel people forward. It has most recently with our business development efforts and our overall organization system.
I hope it can do the same for you too.