A friend of mine decided to take a last-minute vacation to Florida this month before school starts. I have some travel resources and offered to help him. Finding a hotel for his narrow time period was hard with everyone traveling again. Finding the nice accommodations, he wanted for his wife seemed impossible. He was aiming high and refused to settle for something less than he wanted. After several days of fruitless searches something opened up at the last minute. His persistence paid off into a nice last-minute vacation for him and his wife.
Years ago, in sales training we learned it takes at least seven touches to turn a prospect into a sale. We also heard most sales people quit after two touches. A touch can be in person, a phone call, a text, an email or other methods. Today it takes more than seven touches using phone, email or social media in addition to in person contacts. It takes longer to build a trust relationship using email and social media. Sales is hard especially for people who don’t like rejection. It takes a lot of hearing “No” like my friend’s vacation search to get to “Yes”.
In my corporate days as sales manager, my team knew I expected persistence. Excuses like, “He won’t return my call” or “I sent him and email and he didn’t respond.” were unacceptable. They knew they expected to see prospects in person and not give up after a couple of failed attempts. Sometimes, creativity was required. Our team routinely led the division in sales. A big reason was their persistence. They never gave up on a prospect after just a few touches. Building a trust relationship and showing a prospect how spending their valuable time with you is essential. The prospect must know you sincerely care about them and you can bring value to them from the relationship.
We are all in sales, sometimes we are selling an idea or a way to do something. Do you quit after 2 or 3 attempts? If you are a business owner or manager and have sales people working for you, when do your people quit? The economic development work we do at Shale Crescent USA requires a lot of touches over a long period of time. It normally takes more than seven touches just to get to the first in person meeting. Even after a decision is made to locate here and a site is selected there are many stumbling blocks that can shut down a project. There are always solutions but it takes persistence and creativity to find them. A little teamwork and having a large network also help.
We will always experience challenges, setbacks, mistakes and failures. They are part of life. We teach our high school soccer players to get up and get back in the play after they make a mistake or get beat. Laying on the ground having a self-pity party is unacceptable. We teach them to “fix it”. What happened is over. We can’t change the past. We can act to change the future.
In marketing we need to be persistent.
People need to hear a message multiple times for them to remember it. When Shale Crescent USA did Plastics News Live Stream, “Ask the Expert”, in April we chose to do three programs one month apart. Each program had a slightly different focus but each program repeated three key talking points about our region’s advantages over the world;
∫ Reliability- Supply Chain Security
∫ Profitability- Better Economics
∫ Sustainability- Environmental Benefits and lower global emissions
By the third program people were reaching out to us. We knew they were beginning to understand the advantages of locating in or coming to our region. We are now helping a number of companies with expansion or relocation.
I received a sample issue of the June 16-22 issue of the Epoch Times newspaper. It ran an article titled Deadly Child Labor Needed to Electrify the American Road. It is a two-page spread with photos about cobalt mining in the Congo. Batteries for electric cars and other products require cobalt, a rare mineral. The piece talked about children in the Congo who are part of the mining process and are regularly killed by tunnel collapses and other known hazards associated with cobalt mining. A lawsuit has been filed against 5 tech giants charging them with exploiting children to mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I read a little about cobalt mining and am aware of its importance for batteries, especially for electric vehicles. I knew children were involved in the mining process. The Epoch Times piece took my awareness to a new level. The photos and descriptions were graphic and heart wrenching. This article was the additional touch I needed. There is no such thing as “clean energy” every energy source has pollution associated with it. We don’t always see the pollution because we don’t understand the process. In the case of an electric car we don’t see the children in the Congo responsible for the battery. This is an example of the importance of persistence in messaging. At the West Virginia Manufacturers Association Conference last month, we learned the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and WVU are working on longer lasting batteries not requiring cobalt and lithium. They will be cleaner to manufacture. With persistence, I believe, they will find a positive solution.
Success isn’t about being the best, the brightest or the most talented. As coach and a player, we won a lot of games because of persistence. We refused to quit. This is true in business and sales. Lynnda and I have been married for 46 years. It has not all been “happily ever after”. We had plenty of challenges. We chose to take “for better or worse, for richer or poorer” seriously. We never quit on each other. In any area of life, chose to persist. All is possible!