Tag Archives: the value of persistence in selling

Try, Try Again

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Like most of us, you’re probably familiar with this phrase… but if you’re wondering about the validity of the statement, or about the value of persistence, then read on.

Babe Ruth was the home run king with 714 home runs to his credit. What few people know is that during that same time period he also held the record for striking out at bat more than anyone else with 1,330 failures.

R.H. Macy failed seven times, before his store in New York caught on.

Author J.K. Rowling had her Harry Potter manuscript rejected time after time. Today, after successful books, movies, toys, clothing, etc., she is one of the world’s richest authors with a net worth of $1.0 billion dollars and 400 millions books published.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. His coach justified the cut by pointing out that Michael had little or no potential.

Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

The Take-away?
So, what’s the point of these lesser-known examples of perseverence? I suppose it is to realize the absolute importance of persistence… the value of staying the course; of not giving up too soon.

In our previous newsletter we referenced data indicating that, on average, it takes five-to-twelve contacts to make a sale; yet 80% of sales people make three-or-fewer attempts and then give up. Thus, the vast majority of opportunities are siezed by just 20% of the sellers.

The persistent ones.

Evolution?
Let’s also think about the buyers and how they may have evolved. Based on the statistics above, most sellers make one or two attempts to reach a potential buyer, and then they move on (give up!).

So, has the potential buyer “evolved” to somehow realize that by simply ignoring the first couple of queries from a seller, there is an eighty-percent chance that seller will simply go away?

Hmmm… food for thought?

If you’d like a few more surprising examples of the importance of persistence, consult this list of 50 well known successful people who didn’t start off quite so well.

Remind Me

persistence2How often must we remind our customers of the value we bring to the table?

Is a once-per-year reminder sufficient? How about twice per year? Three times?

Most people agree that, ideally, they’d like to “remind” their customers many more times each year; in fact, they say they’d like to keep a reminder of some sort in front of their customers as frequently as possible.

This leads us to a couple of critical questions:

  1. How often should we remind our customers of the value we provide?
  2. How should we do it?

How Often is too Often…?

Questions about the ideal contact frequency are among the most frequently-asked. People are often concerned about coming across as too aggressive or, even worse, alienating their customers or prospects with information overload or too many sales calls.

Yet statistics show that most orders are received only after five-or-more contacts! So, how often is too often?

Generally speaking, sales calls and marketing messages become “over-done” when they fail to provide value to the customer or prospect (see related article on persistence).

This leads nicely to our second question how will we accomplish this value-added approach? How Should We Do It?

Here are three simple and proven best-practices that can help turn each contact into a value-added contact, and that can help us maintain a sufficient frequency of value-added contacts:

  1. Master the practice of pre-call planning. The most successful sales people plan their calls very carefully, based on research and record-keeping (i.e., effective use of a CRM or contact management system). Consequently, they are able to learn a great deal about their customers or prospects during each well-planned and well-executed call, and are able to use this information to make strategic decisions about the frequency and content of future contacts. Even better, use the written pre-call plan as a post-call review tool.
     
  2. Questions are the answer! Most of us tend to plan interactions or presentations by listing our “speaking points.” In other words, the things we plan to say. When planning and executing sales contacts, it’s best to put an equal amount of focus and thought into the things we will ask.

    Asking the right questions is how we learn about our customers’ needs, interests, priorities and challenges; it is how we determine what to do and say next; it is how we solidify true selling relationships.

    As a rule-of-thumb, try to craft questions that focus on what people are trying to accomplish rather than on what they “think they need.” In addition, asking good questions helps us to enhance our ability to listen, because it’s much easier to listen if we stop talking! Good listening also sends a strong implied message to our customers: we care!

  3. Develop a proactive style. This simply means that we end each interaction with a specifically-defined consequential next step a call to action in which we take the proactive position. This helps in several ways.
    • It sets the stage for a higher contact frequency
    • It shows the customer or prospect that we care and that we value their business
    • It often makes things easier for our customer, by helping them to get things done in a timely fashion
    • It shortens the selling cycle
    • It confirms our professionalism