With regards to professional persistence, there are numerous surveys that have been done regarding how many attempts a sales rep should make when trying to engage a prospect. Some companies hope that their inbound pipeline can keep reps busy. Even with a full inbound pipeline how professional persistent should a rep be.
Our insights tell us that some of the persistence depends on how big of a company you are selling to and what role you are calling on. The Fortune 500 C-Suite is incredibly difficult to engage and might require 12, 16 or 20 attempts. One has to be professional in persistence when at this level. Those 12, 16 or 20 attempts may take place over a 3 month period. If the average rep makes 2 to 3 attempts, the rep who is practicing professional persistence will absolutely stand out. The trick is getting reps to agree to do the necessary work.
I have had numerous discussions with marketing departments frustrated by the lack of follow-up on the leads provided to the sales team. Reps who make one call and assume that if it’s a good lead the lead will call back immediately are woefully mistaken. Let’s face it even the best marketing lead is busy and may have other things of higher priority. One attempt that goes unanswered does not mean a lead isn’t interested, just means they are busy.
A sales success story I heard about involved a sales rep calling a VP 10 times to drive the initial conversation. What was interesting, this particular VP hung up on the cold-calling sales rep on the second attempt. The rep was not dismayed but kept practicing professional persistence and on the 10th call the VP answered the phone! In the course of the conversation, the VP admired the rep’s efforts and pointed the rep to the decision maker for the reps solution. The rep then proceeded to call the referred person several more times and on the 9th attempt the prospect answered the phone. The prospects immediate reaction was, “I am a tough guy to get a hold of, how did you get a hold of me?” When the rep described his efforts the decision maker said, “I love your passion and your sales effort, show me what you’ve got.” Those 19 phone calls delivered a six figure closed opportunity in an 8 week sales cycle.
Persistence does matter in an era where there are lots of ways for a prospect to be marketed and sold to. If you want to stand out above your competitors differentiate yourself by practicing professional persistence.