During a routine weekly pipeline review call, one of the sales people, while updating some of his sales efforts on this particular opportunity, mentioned how he was able to get the right person on the call and shared the highlights from that call. The sales guy's manager inquired about next steps and after the sales guy summarized them his boss asked…”ok, so what are you doing now?”. The sales guy responded:”well, we had the call last week, we agreed they will get back to us with the relevant information for next steps and now we are in a holding pattern”.
And they move on to the next account update……
My brain was racing....
A holding pattern?
What does it mean exactly?
What does this pattern look like?
How long is this pattern for?
Oh, and….what are you holding exactly in this pattern?
So I jumped in. “Wait, how long do you estimate this holding pattern to last?”
“Well, we did not designate a timeline but I assume about 3-5 weeks”.
“I see, and what are you planning on doing, how are you planning on communicating with the client during these 3-5 holding pattern weeks?”
“I don’t. I am waiting for them to get back to me as we agreed”.
“What do you think will happen if you were actively waiting?” I asked.
“Yes. Be communicative. Make it a 2 ways communication channel. Instead of just waiting, be actively waiting. ”.
We have all been taught the difference between just listening and active listening.
Simon Sinek even spun it off to not only learn to actively listen but rather, learn to speak last.
When we listen, we are in a sort of a waiting mode. Waiting for the speaking party to finish so we can say our part. Usually during this time of just waiting, we tend to not really pay full attention to what the other side is saying. We are more focused on what it is we want to say next.
But when we are actively listening, we nod during the relevant parts, we verbally confirm we understand what they are saying, we are taking notes and we ask questions. We are focusing more on what they have to say vs. what we have to say.
“There is a difference between selling what you have to sell and selling what they want to buy”
It is very similar during the sales process.
When we are in a holding pattern we are waiting for the other side to get back to us with whatever it is they are supposed to.
We are just waiting for them to come back to us so we can continue selling. But what if, just like when we take notes, ask questions, verbally confirm while actively listening, we would do the same while in a holding pattern? Yes, there are many things you can do to show you are actively waiting.
I created this cheat-sheet for you with a couple of scenarios that will assist you in achieving that Emotional Relevance while you are in an actively waiting pattern:
4 days after the call (and 3 days after the follow up thank you and summary note)
Send a note to one of your contacts on the client’s side
”How are you? I was just going through my notes and realized there is another document you might find valuable. See attached and speak soon”.
9-10 days after the call (and after you made sure at the end of the call, and while the call is still going, you went on LinkedIn and said out loud you are sending a connection request)
Tag the client on LinkedIn
With or without a direct comment to them you tag them on a relevant study you think they might find interesting and valuable.
About a month after the initial call
Connect relevant C-level executive on the client side with your side
Make sure you mention it during the initial call (that you want to do it) and then send an email saying you just spoke with your boss, told them about the meeting/relationship and you want to make an introduction
You see, when you are active during this so-called holding pattern, you guarantee your client knows you are thinking of them. You may trigger something in their mind which will lead to more insight, you show that you care and….most importantly, you assure they follow up with what they were supposed to as discussed on that initial call.
And this way, you know that your client is also actively listening.