There’s a struggle going on. No matter what industry my clients represent, or how smoothly they managed the initial COVID-19 lockdown, or how quickly they created a re-opening process … they are all still struggling on some level.
The demands on their time seem to expand daily. Shifts in priorities seem to occur hourly. And their ability to access the focus and energy available to them in February … it’s not always possible. One client voiced this very succinctly: “Know that we are all working at 60% capacity.”
This means we all need to connect with a skill we may not always associate with business and sales: patience.
Why is patience so important today? Why do clients and prospects appreciate your patience more than ever before?
One of the skills I often talk about — and deeply believe in — is persistence. Persistence is a characteristic we all want in the people we choose to work with, whether its a graphic designer, a bookkeeper or our doctor.
While patience might be considered part of persistence, it actually has a very different meaning. And creates a vastly different experience for our prospects and clients. The word comes from the late 14th century and means “quiet or calmness in waiting for something to happen”.
Persistence means you don’t give up. Patience means you continually show up with the same energy, enthusiasm and calm assurance no matter how long it takes to guide a prospect through your sales process … or a client through an agreed-upon project. When you combine these two qualities, you radiate reliability, capability and professionalism.
Patience is evident in your tone of voice — whether you are talking to your prospect/client by phone or video, or sending them an email. You don’t ever sound clipped, rushed, disappointed. You stay supportive and encouraging. You continually display your ability to work with their schedule.
Patience means you adapt.
As deadlines pass or meetings get cancelled, you keep your prospects/clients informed about your upcoming availability. Always remember that the work you do is necessary, but everyone’s need to constantly juggle priorities has become an unprecedented challenge.
Here are some examples from my world:
- A February project which should have taken 8 weeks is still in play. Segments have been completed but the whole needs more time and attention. The client is incredibly grateful for my gentle reminders and availability.
- Team webinars have been cancelled twice, once the day of the training. Industry-related incidents continually create urgent situations, making staff unavailable. The client is impressed with my ability to easily reschedule.
- A large national project is completely stalled. The organization has done so many “pivots” and some have not been successful. They haven’t got the energy or enthusiasm for rolling out yet another new program so … maybe in November. I’ll be calling them on Monday, November 2.
And let’s also have patience with ourselves. One of the things I’ve noticed about myself during the past two months is that my spelling is deteriorating. Perhaps it relates to some of this ongoing stress we all feel as we put on our masks to get groceries. Instead of being annoyed, I take a deep breath and give myself extra time to proof everything before I hit send.