Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 14th
Persistence and Determination Alone are Omnipotent
Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in the world will take the place of persistence. Talent will not. The world is full of unsuccessful people with talent. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Half of the business days you have to sell are over for this year. Excluding holidays, you have about 120 business days left this year. It is a good time to review your past efforts and recommit to the second half. Just like in sports, like football and basketball, what happened in the first half is not how the game will necessarily end.
One thing you can do to guarantee your second half is better than your first half is to reevaluate your level of persistence. Here are some things to think about to focus you on this most important value in selling.
The most pleasantly persistent salespeople I know welcome challenges. When you cannot get in touch with a prospect, tell yourself that that is a good thing. The easiest people to sell are the ones hardest to get in touch with. Call early, call late, drop by, send an email and send a slow mail. Tell yourself that, “I will talk to this person no matter what.”
So many salespeople I talk to have this standard response when asked if they talked to their prospect: “I tried.” Stop. From now on, answer, “I will.” Do not allow yourself the justification that “trying” is good enough. Never tell yourself or anyone else that “leaving a message,” “sending an email” or “they didn’t call me back” is an adequate response. It isn’t!
If the person you report to has been accepting anything less than “I will talk to them,” don’t let that get you off the hook. You set your own standard of excellence. Make yours the highest despite the people around you.
Remember this: Your agenda is not your prospect’s agenda. Most people have a stove with 10 burners, nine in the back and one up front. Pleasant persistence is the only way to get your product or service moved to the front burner.
I firmly believe there is only about 1 percent of the people you want to talk to that you will never reach with proper persistence. No one ever goes off my prospect list, no matter how many times I try, until I contact them.
The second thing I want to say about persistence has to do with long-term persistence. Recently I talked to a salesperson who has called on a prospect for 12 years. For 12 years, she had regularly reached out to this prospect. The 12th year she made the sale.
Starbucks was founded in 1971 and for the next 15 years the company operated six stores in Seattle. It took 15 years of persistence to get to six stores. In 1987, the original owners sold the chain to a former employee and the brand quickly expanded to 17 stores. Today, there are over 20,000 stores in 64 countries. Long term persistence was the key ingredient.
Many salespeople believe if a prospect says no today that means no forever. Over and over again I see prospects change their mind. The prospect’s circumstances change. The competition fails to meet the prospect’s needs, etc. Remember for the rest of your career that “no” means “no today,” not forever. Long-term persistence pays off.
On my desk I have a quote from T.S. Eliot. “Only those who will risk going too far will possibly find out how far they can go.”
Remember, “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” — Calvin Coolidge