When Persistence Doesn’t Pay

When I started in selling, it was a truism that you had to be persistent. Studies seem to show that most buyers won’t buy until they have had 6 – 8 contacts with a sales rep. Most sales reps give up after 3 calls.

I know that early in my career persistence worked. I heard through the grapevine that my persistence was making an impact and people were starting to do business with me.

Lately I have been hearing buyers tell me about sales reps that they will NEVER do business with. Why? It is because they are making a pest of themselves. They call all the time to get appointments and try to push their way in.

So what is it? Do we persist or not?

We have to persist in a smart way. I recently had a meeting with an ex customer that I originally called on for 9 years before I got the deal.  But, my 9 year pursuit of the business WAS NOT a phone call every week or even every month. Rather, it was an article here with a follow up there. Then a couple of months later I offered a value proposition and pursued some discovery. Later we had a meeting to explore potential offerings and so on.

Over time their circumstances changed. Because I was courteous and because each time we had contact there was value being offered, when they finally decided to make a buy in my space my firm was able to offer a proposal that won. It turned into a $2.3 million client.

So persistence is still part of the equation. If we don’t persist, the competition will. We just have to be smart about how we keep at it.

1. Be courteous and listen. Many buyers report so called sales professionals talking over them and not listening.
2. Always offer relevant value. This can be the special product of the month, an article of interest, industry news or a success story from other clients. To keep calling and asking for the same appointment with the same information will not work.
3. Change up your contact methods. I currently use the phone, networking, letters, email and yes even voice mail and I am beginning to experiment with Social Networking. The point is that people like to be engaged in different ways. Some of my younger buyers prefer email.

I am interested in your stories of persistence.

Take Good Care,


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