Here in the greater Toronto area, we have many multi-lane highways, and I get to drive them regularly. What never ceases to intrigue (and frustrate) me is how many people like to move to the left-hand lane and then drive slower than other vehicles.

Apparently, they are unaware that the left-hand lane should be used by people who drive faster and that slower drivers should remain in the right-hand lane. When I drove around Holland several years ago I was impressed that drivers stayed in the right-hand lane unless they needed to pass another driver.

Are you wondering where I’m going with this and how it applies to selling? The fact is that many salespeople sell at the wrong speed. Sometimes they plod through the sales process as a snail’s pace. But more often than not, they try to sell too quickly.

When you try to close a sale before your prospect is ready to make a buying decision, you run the risk of:

  • Coming across as pushy
  • Being perceived as desperate
  • Annoying your prospect
  • Alienating your prospect
  • Losing the sale entirely

All of these are of particular danger if you sell a complex product or solution to a large organization or if you have a particularly long sales cycle.

Our natural tendency is to try to push the sales process forward as quickly as we can (often due to pressure from our boss or sales manager). If you are in business for yourself, the pressure may be even greater because every sale is important to an entrepreneur.

However, just because prospects aren’t moving ahead more quickly doesn’t mean they’re stalling. Here’s why: Your prospects have more than your deal on their plates. In fact, most busy decision-makers have many projects that require their attention. One of my clients once said, “I couldn’t take on another project right now even if I wanted to.”

So, you might want the sale to move along more quickly but your prospects need to work on those things that are priorities for them. That’s why it is important to pace yourself against your prospect’s buying cycle — not yours.

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