Persistence, Persistence, Persistence

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This is a great tip if you are new to sales, or have a new territory or job. Simple and obvious. One of those “easier said than done” things though.

It’s persistence. Yep, that’s it. The discipline to make the calls you don’t want to make. Do it long enough and you will get opportunities to earn more business. You still have to know what to do when you get the opportunity, but you have to get the opportunity. Even when the target account tells you how happy they are with their current vendor.

I have read/heard a statistic from a few different sources, so not sure where to give credit for it. The stat is that it takes an average of 7 calls to make a sale/get a commitment for next step, and most sale people give up after 3 calls.

So I started testing this stat my self a few years ago. I took a look at who I was calling on, and how many times I called on them, and when was the last time I called on them. I decided that I would call on the accounts I really desired (potential big accounts) until I got the business, or they told me to go away.

A disclaimer: There is a difference in persistence and pestering. Once a week was plenty for my business. I didn’t care if I saw them in person, usually I would not get the chance. But, they knew I came by, and that I wanted the business.

That is how I landed one of our best customers. An account my company wanted. The 3 previous salesman in the territory failed to earn the business. They gave up after one or two meetings. The last salesman even warned me not to bother with this account. That they have really cheap pricing from our competitor and they have a signed agreement. But I knew I could provide better service and help the customer.

I started going by, calling, or emailing once a week. Nothing pushy. Just let them know that I am there, and that I cared about there business. And that I think I can do a better job. Sometimes just leaving a card so he knew I dropped by. My phone rings one day about 5 months into this. It is a project manager at this company. I love the way the call goes.

Me: Hello, this is MIke Williams.

Customer: Are you the (expletive) that keeps leaving cards at my office? I think I have more of your cards than you do.

Me: Yes sir, that would be me.

Customer: Good. I need to talk to you about supplying equipment for a job we are on. when can we meet?

We met the next week. Yes, my pricing was much higher than my competitor that they were using. But, the competitor kept over promising and under delivering. And, when they did deliver, they equipment usually broke. Then they were usually down 1-2 days waiting on service. It take long to convince them that my higher prices were actually lower when they factor in a crew standing around doing nothing for 2 days. And the cost to their reputation when they would get behind schedule because they could not work due to the equipment failures.

This has happened several times since then. All have become great accounts and relationships to this day.

I still had to earn the business. I still had to build a relationship and establish trust. But, persistence got my foot in the door. They didn’t go to Google and start calling other competitors when they had the need. They called the one person that kept calling on them. The persistent person.

When has persistence helped you?

  • Saundra LaLone

    Great post Mike! And love the scripture you throw in at the end for added encouragement. FYI…I found you through a blog you commented on by Rick Roberge. Glad I found you.

    • Thank you for the encouragement Saundra. I need to quote more scripture, all I have is from God’s hand, so I try to give him the credit. I am glad I discovered Rick’s blog, he doesn’t pull punches and tells it like he sees it. I was shocked by his comments about me. I had a good spike in readers that day.

      • No, he definitely doesn’t pull any punches. He’s very candid, which is good most of the time : ) He liked your comment and respects what you are trying to do with your blog. What he did is a great example of how interacting and commenting can help you grow. Many times comments can be “spam” but when you can build a blog following that draws good honest dialogue, it can be powerful. Hope that makes sense. I look forward to reading more of your articles.