Let’s say your average sales cycle from target to close is 90 days. That means that the opportunities you create this week will be won in the first week of April. If you decide not to prospect this week, you will pay for this decision months from now.Maybe your sales cycle is longer, call it 180 days, twice as long as the example above. The prospecting you don’t do this week will not come back to bite you until July. With a 180-day sales cycle, there will be nothing you can do to create the opportunities you need.For some of you reading this, your sales cycle can be a year or longer. You won’t have any negative repercussions from not prospecting now until an entire year has passed.The problem with prospecting and opportunity creation is that there is no penalty for not doing it today. You show up tomorrow, you still have your job, no one notices that you didn’t do any prospecting, and no one expected you to win an opportunity on any particular day (unless you forecasted the deal). The penalty for not prospecting comes much later, at some date that is so far away that you are misled into believing that you have time to make up for lost time. But the more days you go without doing the work, the more the penalty multiplies, creating a gap that cannot be overcome by even the most valiant and determined effort.It’s worth reviewing the math. If you have a 1,200,000 quota, you need to win $100,000 business each month. If you have a 50 percent close rate, you need $200,000 worth of opportunities each month. If you fail to produce those opportunities in a single month, your number doubles to $400,000 in new opportunities the following month. That means those opportunities will be won a month later than they would have been had you done the work when you needed to.The first rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging. This is why it is important to keep the disciplines that produce success consistently over time. What you do this week matters, even if you won’t see the results until well into the future.