Waiting is not a Sales Activity

coaching sales sales management

When I led business reviews with salespeople, there was one wrong answer to a simple question that made me cringe.

I asked the salesperson, “What is your next step with this customer?”

When the answer came back, “I’M WAITING FOR such and such thing to happen.”

I quickly responded with, “WAITING is not a sales activity.”

I would then remind the salesperson that waiting for a customer to sign, act, call you back, get approval, or ANYTHING is not what great salespeople do.

Instead, great salespeople always act. They are always moving. Great salespeople create energy and action by leaning forward. Like Ben Affleck’s line in the movie Boiler Room, “Motion creates Emotion.”

Let’s retire the non-sales activity of “waiting” and replace it with action and next steps.

Here are a few ideas to get you moving and motivate your customers to close the deal.

Scenario 1:
The contract is with the customer and ready for signature.

What is your next sales step??? HINT: Don’t answer “waiting to sign.”

Here’s a Good Answer:
“The customer has the contract and has committed to signing. I have confirmed which customer will sign the contract, ensured that the signer is in town, was fully briefed, and will sign by Friday. I have a backup plan to use my customer coaches to push for signature if the paperwork is not completed by the end of the week.”

Scenario 2:
A new Vice President of Operations joined the executive team with your biggest customer. You have asked for an introductory meeting with the new leader.

What is your next step??? HINT: Don’t answer, “I’m waiting for the meeting to be scheduled.”

Here’s a Good Answer:
“I have a request for an introductory meeting with the new VP of Ops. My goal is to schedule it by Wednesday. I’ve already asked the administrative assistant for help. If I don’t hear back by Wednesday, I will pop into the executive suite to chat with the admin on Thursday after I meet with the VP of Supply Chain.”

Final Scenario 3:
It’s the end of the quarter. You’re a bit behind your number. You’re in a business review with your manager, pushing for answers and clarity on how the quarter will finish.

It appears you have multiple accounts behind their goal. How will you hit your quota this quarter? Hint: Don’t answer with, “I’m waiting for a few big accounts to place a larger-than-average order.”

Here’s a Good Answer: 
“I recognize that I am a bit behind, and I have an action plan for each account. Let me share my end-of-quarter actions at my biggest account. First, I have gained support from the program manager for a 5,000-unit purchase. I will need some support on the terms and conditions for this order from management. I have already begun socializing this deal with the purchase order folks, so once the green light is given, we can get this booked and shipped on time.”

Remember, “Waiting is NOT a Sales Activity.” Have a plan ready to go. Communicate your plans frequently and clearly with your manager.

It may be tempting to say you’re “waiting.” However, “waiting” doesn’t give you control. Waiting outsources control to the customer. Ultimately, the customer will decide to act or not to act. Thus, you must be ready with clear actions to persuade and motivate that customer to move forward.

Actions instill confidence. Actions create motion. And motion creates the emotion needed to book the sale.

As you close this quarter, remember to load up on sales action. The best are constantly in motion and never waiting.

Subscribe to The Monday Mojo Skills Newsletter

Join our mailing list for the latest news and updates that will lift your skills and confidence.