It is the number one mistake I see salespeople make. Working to their own timeframe. Not their customers. And in sales, you can't force other people's timeframes.

All Selling is Emotional. But, you can’t be

Ah, I just got frustrated, Ronan.


I phoned him.

Ok, but I’m getting a feeling you are not telling me everything.

Well, I gave him a deadline.

Did you push him?

I suppose.

Tell me more.

Look, we met and the meeting was successful. He asked for a proposal and we agreed to get in touch in a couple of weeks.

Was there a specific timescale agreed?

No. He said he needed to discuss it with a business partner first. He was on holidays and he would talk to him when he got back.

Go on.

So, he didn’t get back to me. It is about three weeks now. It is a big deal. I was banking on it to close.

Do you put it in the forecast?

Yes. It was a slam-dunk as far as I was concerned.

And what changed?

Ronan, these are the bits I hate. Introspection doesn’t sit easily with me. But I started to think about it. A lot. The month-end was nearing. And I was going to be short. So, I guess I got a little more anxious about it.

And let me guess. Did you start to share your anxieties with others?

Yes. A problem shared is a problem halved, Ronan.

In my experience, a problem shared is a problem doubled. And what advice did you get?

Get him on the phone. Call his bluff. Challenge him. You get the picture. As I am saying this stuff, I’m beginning to get annoyed at myself. I was definitely letting the emotions run away with themselves.


I called. I didn’t reach him. And left a voicemail saying I needed a decision from him.

Oh, dear.

I know. I screwed up. And it didn’t take him long to respond via email.


Dear, Jim, I received your voicemail earlier. I am not ready to make a decision. Let’s leave this for now. I am reviewing some other options.

It is lost, for now, but you might still reignite it. 

Yes, I know. It was never a banker, but it is off his agenda now. And I am responsible for it.

Well, you can beat yourself up about it. Or you can learn from it. There is nobody in sales who has avoided this pitfall. The key is that you are talking about it now. That you see how your emotional state can impact others. And you are willing to change. I call that a major win. You lost a deal but won some valuable insights into relationship building.

It doesn’t feel like a win, Ronan. But, I do see where you are coming from. I have given it some thought and I know that there are other sales opportunities I have lost because I have been too pushy.

It is the number one mistake I see salespeople make. Working to their own timeframe. Not their customers. And in sales, you can’t force other people’s timeframes.

And as you often remind me, Ronan. You can only know the other person’s timeframe, by asking.

Yes. It is simple stuff but often overlooked. So, what next?

I’m going to review my current sales pipeline and ask myself if I know the customer’s timeframe. If I don’t I am going to find it out. If I do I am going to ensure that I respect it.

That sounds like a great plan. And what is your timeframe for completing it?

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