Playing The Long Game In Sales

prospecting, sales maven, Nikki Rausch, sales tips, sales training

When's the last time you wanted something bad enough you were willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen?

Maybe it took weeks, months or even years. Was it worth it when you finally reached your goal? Was it worth playing the long game?

The selling process can sometimes require you to play the long game. Too often people give up too early. People make up stories as to why they could never close the business with XYZ  company or earn the business of ABC person. I've had those same thoughts a time or two. We convince ourselves we're not capable or that said company or person would never want to work with us.

Frankly, when you give up too soon, you're proving your own theory correct. No company or person wants to work with someone who gives up so easily.

People who've worked with me know I'm not a fan of chasing clients. I actually refuse to do it. Once a company or person has engaged with me in a sales discussion and then stops returning calls or emails, I gracefully let them know that when they're ready, I'd love to earn their business.

However, that doesn't mean I don't believe in targeting specific clients. I do believe in creating a list of your ideal clients and then going about building a relationship to earn their business. This relationship building is what I call playing the long game in the sales process.

One of my favorite clients is currently doing this. She's set her sights on a specific person she'd like to do business with. It's been fun to watch my client on social media create curiosity about her business and engage her target client. It's almost like watching a finely choreographed dance.

Steps For Playing The Long Game


Create a list of companies/people you'd most like to work with. Think big when making your list. What companies/people would bring influence and build recognition for you in your field? Which companies/people have the most potential for long term profitable relationships?

My recommendation is that you have at least 5 on your list at all times. This means you keep adding to your list once you've earned the business of someone on the list or received a hard no from someone on the list. By the way, this same process works when you're wanting to recruit people for your team and/or looking for a job.


You go about building a relationship. This might mean engaging with the company/person on social media and/or in person whenever possible. Do your research. Find out which organizations the people on your list belong too. Get involved and attend an event. Find out who you know on LinkedIn/Facebook that is connected to the people you want to work with. Ask your connections to make an introduction.

The relationship part of the process doesn't mean going in the for the sale on your first interaction when playing the long game. There's nothing worse than having someone connect with me on LinkedIn/Facebook only to receive a message asking me to buy from them. Yuck. No relationship almost always means no sale.


Once you've established rapport and started building the relationship, test the waters. Let the person know how much you'd like to work with them. Notice, I didn't say ask them for their business. You can say to someone, “You are my ideal client, I'd love to work with you.” You're testing the water with this statement, seeing what they say next. When they want to know more, your opportunity for asking for the business is right around the corner. When they brush off your comment or change the subject, be willing to let it go and focus on relationship building.

The Long Game Continued…

As you keep building the relationship, opportunities to test the water will come back around. Many times a “no” from someone in this scenario is just a “not yet.”

I've applied these steps over and over again and been able to work with some of the companies/people that I initially tried to talk myself out of going after because I was afraid. I was afraid they wouldn't think I was worth the money. I even used these steps many years ago to get hired at my ideal company. It took over 2 years of building relationships with key decision makers in order to receive a job offer. In the end, it's always been worth it.

Be strategic, make your list, and get working on it. You've got this.

Wishing you continued success this week.

Agree? Disagree? Have additional comments or thoughts on this article? Please share.

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