Being Politely Persistent

Have you ever heard the phrase “politely persistent”? It’s not original, I stole it from another sales person a while back. The phrase resonated with me and I still think about being “politely persistent” almost every day. I take business development, or sales, very seriously, I always have. When I was young I read and studied every sales book I could get my hands on. I spent time talking with successful sales people in the effort to try and understand what is was that drove their success.

Equally, I have studied customers. I have worked hard to understand what motivates them, what turns them off, what their typical day looks like, how they schedule meetings, how they manage priorities, etc., etc. Several important things important things have revealed themselves to me over the years. For example, the higher level the executive, the more meetings they have each and every day. C-level executives in Fortune 500 companies typically break up there days in 15 minute increments. That’s why those who request 60 minute, even 30 minute meetings never get responses. Ask for a 15 minute introduction with a Fortune 500 executive and you’ll almost always get it, I do anyway.

That gets me back to being politely persistent. Customers are busy, some busier than ever before. They are trying to do far more with far fewer resources. I know too many sales people who write off a lead or a prospect if they do not get a response to their first voice mail or email. I follow-up, and I follow-up again, and I follow-up again. Honestly I will continue to follow-up until a person tells me to stop calling them. That almost never happens. Instead I usually receive an apology for not getting back to me sooner.

I actually had a customer that told me the reason they ended up doing business with me was because my persistence showed that I was genuinely interested in doing business with that person, at that company. They said that my follow-up made it clear I was not just a smiler and dialer like all the others sales people calling on them day in and day out. That customer turned into one of my biggest accounts ever, the contact became a personal friend, and she actually came to work for me when I launched my own firm.

Your customers, even candidates, get calls from people just like you 10 to 20 times per day. Email is even worse with them sometimes receiving hundreds per day. I know C-level executives who sort through thousands of emails every day. Persistence is one way you can stand out. Don’t mistake harassment for persistence. You need to be creative and non-intrusive. Add value to be sure you are not only persistent, but politely persistent and you will no doubt be viewed as different from the competition.

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About joshhealan

Josh oversees business development for Experis' Engineering, Chemical and Scientific practice in the Cleveland market. He has more than 14 years of experience in sales, engineering consulting, management and business-to-business marketing. When he's not kicking ass and taking names at work, he's spending time with his wife, kids and his dog.

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