How many times have you asked someone who told you he or she would do something what the status is, and the response is, “I’m waiting for X to get back to me on that.” And that makes you feel…
“Diligently Waiting” is a joke characterization I’ve heard in Sales performance assessment conversations. We all have experienced it from one end or the other, and all too often this condition is just accepted as one of those “it’s what it is” situations. That’s the case less often that we hope. What diligently waiting signifies is a breakdown in a conversation. In an effective conversation designed to fulfill mutual commitments, there never need be a “diligently waiting” period.
In an effective conversation for action, the parties negotiate (request-promise-accept) times to complete tasks or answer questions. We may be said to be waiting for that completion or answer, but the waiting isn’t an unbounded condition – we have a committed timeframe for performance. One of the pushback excuses for failing to negotiate committed timeframes for next steps, particularly when required of a prospective customer, is that it will be offensive and drive the prospect away. Only if handled unprofessionally. Almost everyone appreciates that time is valuable to us all, and no one likes to be nagged. It is only common courtesy and common sense to make timeframe commitments to avoid unnecessary dropouts and pestering periods. In Sales, if a prospect habitually fails to make or meet time commitments for their actions, it would be wise to review lead scoring and re-evaluate how well qualified the prospect is… and maybe incorporate fulfillment of timeframe commitment into your leadscore.
Making next steps specific and individual helps with mutual timing commitments. If you lump a number of follow-up actions into a single to-do, it is much more likely that the promising or performing party will miss their committed timeframe.
Another way to improve time commitment performance is to agree at the beginning of each conversation for action that either party promises to notify the other as soon as they are aware their timeframe commitment is in jeopardy and negotiate a revised committed timeframe. This one practice can ward off many bad surprises by encouraging people not to hide adverse developments in the hope of recovering and delivering on time.
All action occurs in conversation. Indeterminate waiting, no matter how diligent, signals a breakdown in the action. Conversation Driven Business can help you spot conversation breakdowns, identify their causes and design and implement more effective conversation behaviors.
You can always choose to design your future. Strategic Venture Consulting’s Conversation Driven Business(TM) can help you expand and improve your organization’s future by designing and optimizing its network of conversations and increasing its conversational competence.
(c) 2013 Strategic Venture Consulting / Robert Kimball all rights reserved.