Too many of us, especially when times are challenging, tend to lose our cool and give up on relationships before they have reached fruition. Prospecting cycles can often be long and tedious. The key is keeping the proverbial slowpokes on the grid, so your competition doesn’t take them away. So cool your jets and read these important tips on maintaining your prospects while they inch forward toward buying from you.

Be realistic. In a perfect world, you’d make a presentation, and prospects would decide right on the spot that they immediately must have what you’re offering. Unfortunately, little things like budgets, cutbacks, management approvals and expenditure planning seem to get in the way. Your prospects might simply have their hands tied when it comes to buying anything right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t when the time is right. Find out what is preventing a decision from being made and when a purchase is likely to happen. Be patient and understanding, and you’ll probably be rewarded with a sale.

Add value while biding your time. So you’ve made your presentation, and there’s definite interest but no movement yet. Don’t sit back and wait for them to call you. Think of ways you can stay in the forefront of their thoughts without looking like a pushy salesperson.

It’s all about providing those little extras that show you care. Start with keeping them connected with a regular newsletter and e-mail blasts. Send them industry publication articles on topics that might be of interest or invite them to an upcoming trade event or networking get-together. You might just provide them with a useful new business strategy or a valuable contact through your efforts.

Hang in there, but play it smart. Prospecting cycles can sometimes drag on for years and then result in valuable business. Other times, prospects can keep you hanging without ever having any intention of buying. It’s your job to determine who has real potential and who is just stringing you along. The best way to determine their viability is to ask lots of questions and keep them close during the process.

Don’t give up. Finally, the worst thing you can do is to simply give up and let them fall of the grid without knowing if there was true potential. What you don’t know will certainly be found out by your competition who will more than willingly take the business from you!

Adrian Miller has more than 20 years of experience as a sales training expert. She is the founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, which offers real-world solutions to real-world situations for clients that range from promising startups to Fortune 500 global enterprises. To find out more, go to http://www.adrianmiller.com or visit her blog at http://adrianmiller.wordpress.com.