Bamboo tree

One of the questions which all candidates that want to join the SPS team are asked is, “Do you believe persistence pays off?” While we’ve never had anyone answer, “No,” by probing into past experiences and interpreting responses (both verbal and non-verbal), we try to assess who truly lives this mantra, versus just saying what we want to hear.

To be successful in achieving any worthwhile and challenging goal, no single rule or idea may be more important than the concept of delayed gratification. While this seems to be especially true in sales, it’s even something I began imparting on my children at a young age. No easy feat today, given the pervasiveness of electronic devices and the constant barrage of alerts and notifications…in other words: instant gratification!

To understand how delayed gratification works, let’s use the example of how the Chinese bamboo grows. For the first several years of its existence, despite ongoing nurturing and watering, the bamboo never emerges from the surface. It could appear during this time that no progress is being made, when in fact that’s not at all true. After years of tending, once it’s foundation is strong beneath the surface and the timing is right, the plant grows as high as 80 feet in a period of 60 days! Note that the amount of effort from the gardener didn’t change during this 60 days of phenomenal growth, it just persisted.

No easy feat given today’s pervasiveness of electronic devices and their constant barrage of alerts and notifications…in other words: instant gratification!

I am a sucker for metaphors and it appears that nature has provided us with this most suitable example for anyone that longs to be very successful in business development. Let me speak from my own personal experience. About 6 years ago, when SPS was in its infancy, I was visiting my wife’s family in Jacksonville, FL and I reached out to some Miami and surrounding area PE firms regarding a meeting to learn more about our product. I was able to secure only one meeting with a major player that was on my top-ten list, and the meeting was with a senior partner.

As a cash-strapped entrepreneur, flying down at the last minute from Jacksonville was not an option, so, I decided to borrow my in-law’s car and make the 5-hour drive each way. One heck of a day trip! Would it be worth it? Let me also mention that I had broken my wrist a few weeks earlier. Now, I honestly wouldn’t recommend anyone driving 10 hours with one arm in a long-arm cast (it might actually be illegal), but there’s a point.

I throw on my suit to make the 5 plus hour trek….and the senior partner no-shows me! I end up having to meet with a VP, and decide to just brush it off and make the best of it. The VP loves the product and thinks it’s a great fit. But, over the next year or so, I’m never able to gain any traction internally. Then I find out the VP has left the firm. Back to square one – or did I just plant a bamboo seed?

I continue to stay in front of the senior partner that I was originally supposed to meet with. We have a few conversations, but it’s not getting anywhere. Finally, I run into him at a conference; we hit it off and have a detailed demo. A year later (3-4 years of watering and nurturing without ostensible results) his firm becomes a client, and still is to this day!

And by the way, the VP that left the firm ended up co-founding his own fund. As of early 2017, they are also a client! Wait there’s more! The partner that got us signed up originally, has since launched his own fund and we are in ongoing talks to potentially work together and help one another!

To understand how delayed gratification works, let’s use the example of how the Chinese bamboo grows.

Not only has that 10 plus hour trip 6 years ago – driving while in a long arm cast, where the partner no-showed, which for the first 3-4 years appeared to be a complete waste – ended up generating well over 6 figure in sales for SPS. It has also been a great resource for referrals and additional clients!

Next time you feel a meeting didn’t go well, or you put in a lot of effort into something that doesn’t show any results, remember this story and how the bamboo grows. As the saying goes, “in every adversity lies the seed of equal or greater benefit.” Embrace the power of delayed gratification and view challenges as opportunities to test yourself and grow, so that you can handle all the great success to come!



Photo by Alex Keda on Unsplash.

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