No one has better perspective on the contradictions of human behavior than a salesperson.
In the morning, your prospect has an urgent need for your product or service, and by afternoon, all of your calls are forwarding to voicemail. That enthusiastic first meeting you thought went so well? Your prospect’s next steps are canceling meetings and declining requests to reschedule. That is, until your prospect makes the buy decision and wants your product or service up and running immediately. Then you’re frantically rearranging your schedule to accommodate.
In these situations, it’s easy for salespeople to get sucked into reactive behavior—what I call “frequesting.” Instead of backing off, you crank up your outreach and over-communicate, sending even more requests and messages to prospects. You feel like a gerbil in a wheel, running in place with no forward movement in sight.
Break the Frequesting Habit
Breaking the frequesting habit takes the will to wait. Yes, wait. This applies to “gotta have it now” scenarios as well as to prospect communications that have gone dark. Step away from your smartphone and laptop, resist the urge to react and literally wait a minute. Or five. Or even an hour.
A few weeks ago, I heard from a prospect I’d been in touch with for more than six months. The company was ready to engage, and had an aggressive timeline for a new project. Setting up meetings was challenging. My contact frequently rescheduled meetings with same-day notice. On one particularly busy day, my contact sent a same-day change that moved a critical meeting to a time that I’d previously indicated was booked.
My first instinct was to point out that I was already booked and request another date for the meeting. While that seemed reasonable, it wouldn’t solve the problem or enhance my relationship with this contact. So I waited several minutes before responding, and I figured out a way to adjust my commitments to accept the rescheduled meeting.
Allow Space for a Thoughtful Response
Accepting the meeting request didn’t stop me from feeling that my contact lacked respect for my time. I began considering diplomatic ways to address the issue and set expectations for scheduling meetings. About an hour later, I received a six-word reply to my meeting acceptance:
You are a blessing. Thank You.
It turns out that my contact was juggling a major business issue and a family situation. My agreeing to a scheduling change was a cooperative bright spot among these other challenges and marked the beginning of a positive business relationship.
Sometimes your most powerful sales response is restraint. This doesn’t mean being non-responsive. It means allowing yourself the space for a thoughtful and intentional response. And you just may be pleasantly surprised by what happens in that space.