In Afghanistan, the locals have a saying about their strategy with soldiers from other countries. The saying is: “You have the watches, but we have the time.” The idea here is that at some point the foreign soldiers are going to leave and go home, and that they locals aren’t going anywhere. The strategy is to wait out the foreigners and, over time, it works.
Giving Up Too Soon
When a salesperson asks when it is time to give up on a prospective client, or their dream client, it’s because they are discouraged, lack patience, and underestimate the power in a strategy built on a professional persistence. The fact that it is difficult to gain a meeting with your dream client—and even more difficult to displace your competitor—shouldn’t discourage one from pursuing those clients. Instead, it should encourage them, as the kind of loyalty the prospective client has for their existing supplier is a tremendous benefit later, when you have won their business.
Time will pass whether you call on your dream client or not. You will still be prospecting, working to gain meetings, create new opportunities, and win the opportunities you create. You will still be doing the work that salespeople do regardless of whether you pursue the cold targets that are better than warm leads, even if they are difficult to acquire.
Because this is true, there is no reason to give up. There is no benefit that accrues to you for abandoning the pursuit of what you want. Giving up only ensures that you never have what you want because you quit too soon.
Trading Watches for Time
In sales, you are better believing your dream client has the watch and you have the time, rather than its opposite. If you are not getting any traction, you are receiving feedback. That feedback may be that you are not offering enough value in trade for their time and attention. It may also mean your timing is bad, and that you might do better to try again later.
Given a long enough timeline, every one of your dream clients is going to change their strategic partner. The choice you have to make is whether you are going to persist long enough to be that partner.
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