Persistence is a vital skill that every sales person needs. I’ve heard that most sales are made after eight contacts with a prospect. While you may get lucky and make a sale before that, most people tend to give up after just three or four attempts.
When I was a kid, I used to watch a cartoon called The Smurfs. It was a show about a group of small, blue fictional creatures and their everyday lives. Papa Smurf was the leader and other Smurfs were named after their personality or profession, i.e. Brainy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Handy Smurf and Doctor Smurf. My favorite characters in the show weren’t the Smurfs. My favorites were Gargamel the Sorcerer and his cat Azrael. Gargamel always tried to capture the Smurfs because they were ingredients that he needed to complete a potion from one of his magic books. This potion would help him create the Philosopher’s Stone, which would turn metal into gold. Azrael wanted to capture the Smurfs so he could eat them. Although they were evil and always causing trouble for the Smurfs, the level of persistence and determination that Gargamel and Azrael brought to the table is absolutely impressive. While watching the show, it taught me that no matter how many times you fail at something, to never give up because the next outcome may be different. This is a great lesson that I still follow today as an adult (Editor’s note: we’ll use the word ‘adult’ loosely).
Let’s be honest, executives are very busy and while most of them may want to discuss your solution, other priorities crop up all the time. If you stop contacting them, there is a good chance that they will forget about you when they are finally ready to move forward with a purchase. You need to respect their time and understand that they have multiple projects in the works at any given moment. Like you, they can only work on a certain number of projects at once.
Many sales people close sales long after the initial contact because they have been persistent by maintaining open lines of communication. If you were to give up after just a few attempts, a competitor who is more persistent will eventually get the business. Are you willing to give business away or are you going to act like Gargamel and Azrael by persisting until you succeed? Contact your prospects and turn that persistence and determination into smurftastic sales!