Grow up, don't give up"Success is a matter of hanging on after others have let go" – William FeatherHow successful are you at overcoming obstacles? Do you try too hard, but not long enough? Are you aware that inexperience and immaturity ar

  • 2001-05-03
  • Paul E. Adams
"Success is a matter of hanging on after others have let go" – William Feather

How successful are you at overcoming obstacles? Do you try too hard, but not long enough? Are you aware that inexperience and immaturity are traveling companions to impatience? If you thrive on "instant gratification" it is time to rethink your approach to business and getting what you want out of life.

When I was with Capitol Records in Hollywood, the vice president of special products shared his belief in the marvels of persistence with me. According to his story, one day, early in his career, while calling on retailers in downtown Los Angles, he found himself with some spare time before his next appointment, and decided to call on, for the first time, a large department store chain located a block away. When meeting the buyer, he was told there was no need for his product as the chain was satisfied with a competitor's merchandise. The following month, being in the same area, he decided to try again. Once more the buyer told him he was not interested. Three months later, with some free time, he made another attempt. The buyer greeted him, asking abruptly: "Where have you been for the past three months?" Perplexed, he explained that on his two earlier visits he was clearly told there was no interest in his merchandise. At this point, the buyer told him that he did not do business with any salesperson that did not make at least three, and preferably four, sales calls. He explained it was his business philosophy that he wished to do business only with people who wished to do business, and viewed determination as a sign of future reliability. With that, he was told to get out his order pad if he wished to make a sale. He learned that persistence does pay off.

I know from personal experience that it is easy to become discouraged as rejection and less-than-polite behavior from potential customers can be unsettling and intimidating and lead to the common mistake of quitting too soon. However, take some comfort knowing that such rejection is not personal. Are you aware most professional buyers and the majority of potential customers hesitate to deal with strangers? Why? Because it takes time to establish trust. Are your promises and claims real or conversation? What if there are problems, will you handle them promptly or disappear? Individuals who may have had troublesome experiences dealing with strangers will be hesitant and cautious. It will only be after a few visits and demonstrating your sincerity, that they will feel comfortable enough to say yes. After all, like you, potential customers don't want problems with unreliable or less than honest suppliers.

Unfortunately too many salespersons fail to appreciate the role of trust and determination and quit too soon. During the 1970s as the role of salespersons in major corporations began to take on a "semi" professional status, a management study reported that four out of five buyers will place an initial order only after the fourth sales call. Yet four out of five salespersons rarely get beyond the third call. They give up too soon. Thus, one in five succeed because they understand the need to establish, over a period of time, a comfort zone between buyer and seller.

Remember a major mistake is the lack of follow-up. How do you feel when someone promises to call you or send you something and they don't? When a salesperson follows up, a strong message of caring and customer interest is being sent. A salesperson that is diligent in keeping commitments, and by showing interest in their customer's well being will be a successful one.

Whatever your goals are your determination demonstrated by follow-up and not quitting too soon will tip the scales in your favor. The next time you are striving to achieve some goal, be mature and realistic, don't expect instant success – just follow up and don't quit trying. Or as some positive-thinking success gurus like to spout: "Don't take no for an answer."