The Value of Persistence

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We hired an experienced salesperson about a year ago. Lori started off selling our services, which include helping our clients land new customers and grow their business.

Below is a summary of her sales activity for a particular prospect.

  • Lori made numerous calls over a month to the owner of a local manufacturing company and left numerous messages. She did not reach him.

  • Lori went over to the plant and dropped off a packet of information for the owner. Owner came out to see her and she spent an hour with him learning about his company. She learned enough in the meeting to determine that we could help them. The owner was interested so she set up another meeting with him and his staff.

  • I attended the next meeting with her. Owner appeared to have forgotten about the meeting and had not reached out to his staff. Owner is partially retired and not as involved in the day-to-day running of the organization as we believed. We met with him for 40 minutes and then briefly met with his president and operations manager. We still thought we could help, so we agreed to summarize our findings and suggestions and email it to them.

  • A couple of days later, we emailed our findings and suggestions to the owner, president, and general manager and did not receive a response.

  • Lori called all three numerous times over a two-week period and didn’t hear back.

  • Again, Lori drove over to the company and tried to meet with the owner and instead met with the General Manager. The General Manager said that she received our summary and reviewed it and wondered how much our services cost. She agreed to review our information and then get back to us to set up a meeting.

  • Two weeks went by and we did not hear from her and Lori continued to call.

  • Lori then drove over to the plant at 8 AM, a time she knew was convenient for the owner, and managed to catch him. At this point, she got him to commit to meeting with us and his managers.

This is what I call persistence.

Three points I would like to make.

  • No one ever said no, so Lori kept going. Sometimes persistence is not about changing a “No” into a “Yes”; it’s about not quitting until you have one or the other. Lori believed that we could help this company, so she just kept going. This type of commitment from a salesperson is so rare and unusual.

  • By continuing to call on this company, Lori pushed the management to interact with our ideas and consider whether they will work in their company. In the busyness of life, sometimes getting executives to just consider your idea is what it takes. At minimum it gives them a chance to give you an informed no or helps them identify what other information they need.

  • Finally, by continuing to call and push into an organization, we learn how the organization works, what their needs are, who are the decision makers and how they work together. The persistence provides us the insights to understand how to sell the company. Great ideas and products are important but if a company does not understand how to sell these to their prospects, they are not going to be successful.

A salesperson who persists through this organizational indifference or resistance is priceless.