Some sales trainers teach that persistence is a horrible idea. If you start to suspect that the buyer is just "kicking the tire" the salesperson is often instructed to cut the prospect loose. My experience finds that philosophy is not applicable in the B2B marketplace.
As a SVP of purchasing for a national company, it was the persistent salesperson that won my business. How did they do this? They developed top-of-mind awareness, so when I was ready to talk to them, I knew who they were, where they were from and what they were selling.
The American Marketing Association says 27 touches are required before people will buy anything new. It takes an average of 5 'touches' just to get an appointment, yet 50 per cent of salespeople give up after the first touch. Here are some actionable tactics that you can pursue that will help your message be relevant to a buyer without appearing like the proverbial "pain in the posterior."
You can't develop top-of-mind awareness with a buyer unless you provide frequent "reminders" that you exist. The very best salespeople have worked long and hard to establish a strong working relationship with their buyers. Make contact about once every two weeks in the earliest stages of prospecting. Keep in mind some of the other key communication behaviors in these early calls: be targeted, be relevant, and be purposeful.
After developing rapport with your buyer, reaching out to your buyer once every couple of months should be adequate to maintain top-of-mind awareness if the timing for a sale wasn't quite right when you initially were prospecting.
Whether it's due to caller ID or just a busy buyer, expect to reach your prospects voicemail an average of three times before getting through, so...be persistent! Since you should plan on being put through to voice mail, consider it a free advertisement. It's an ad that makes your buyer aware of who you are, what your company does and what you can do for them.
Finally, persistence does not mean you shouldn't vary your methods of contact. Until you know for certain how your prospect prefers to communicate with you, it's best to cover all your bases by changing your method of contact. Plus, by changing communication vehicles, it's a great way to demonstrate your persistence without crossing the line to irritant, or worse yet, a pest. Two voice messages, a follow-up email message, a customized letter or package sent via snail mail and another voice message "touches" the buyer differently than call after call with virtually identical voice messages.
What buyers want is a sales rep that is persistent in his communications, reflecting commitment to the buyer and his needs.
About the Author:
Mark Bishop is the President of What Buyers Want and author of The Trusted Seller. Mark Bishop has a training philosophy that teaches salespeople the behaviors buyers are looking for in salespeople; focusing on the relationship development strategies and on longer sales cycles involved when selling to business professionals. This philosophy was developed while serving as the SVP of Purchasing for a National Buying Cooperative.