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Slow: The New Fast

April 12th, 2012

Anyone who has ever worked within a sales and business development function has asked it at least a few times. 

What happened to that white-hot prospect? 

You had their attention, their direct dial, their cell number. They had a need – your product or service practically sold itself.  You had rapport. You had a verbal agreement, and then –

Silence. 

You replay the conversations in your mind and retrace your steps from your notes.  Did you miss something?

Perhaps.  But maybe it’s not what you think you missed.

Maybe what the prospect took was the opportunity for a measured response. Some slow, “think time” inside a business pace that is increasingly head-spinning and expects an increasingly rapid response.

The relationship between technology, change and response times is accelerating at Mach-like speed. According to Futurist magazine, the rate of progress and change in the 21st century will be about a thousand times faster than in the 20th century – the equivalent to 100,000 years of progress.  Coping with this pace of change will require more than the ability to assess data points to enhance the customer experience. Not surprisingly, foresight, not current knowledge, is predicted to be the single most essential skill for success in this century.   

The Palo Alto-based Institute for the Future’s 2011 Map of the Decade lays out a fascinating blueprint of human interaction with the trends of the future – a balancing act of embracing or tempering the changes that come with rapid progress.  So one possible, balancing response to an overload of convenience, expansion, productivity, the need for speed?  Slow, the new fast. 

Before the next white-hot lead turns to a whiff of smoke, it might be a good time to consider your prospects’ responses to change within their buying cycle, instead of focusing on shortening the sales cycle.  Building in the time and space for both you and them to gain perspective on the future use and implications of your product or service could seem counter-intuitive. It could also be a route to yes.