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The Magic of Persistence

By January 10, 2018 No Comments

The statistics made their way around social media about 18 months ago and it boiled down to this: 80 percent of clients make their purchasing decision on the 5th to 12th contact from a sales person. Yet, only half of sales people follow up even once. And – get this – only 10 percent follow up five or more times.

Here’s the implication: 80 percent of business is reserved for the 10 percent of sales people who have the persistence to follow up five or more times.

Organizations rarely account for that reality. They hatch ideas. They pitch the ideas for a while. A few months later, they reassemble, scratching their heads. What went wrong?

“The world has changed,” someone suggests. “People just aren’t buying (or joining or attending) like they used to. We need something entirely new.”

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

In a world built on ingenuity and sexy, new technologies, it seems impossible to fathom that persistence could be the true magic.

“If we hit people too frequently, they’ll get tired of us and tune us out.”

It was a battle I perpetually fought alongside my marketing brethren for years and years. Particularly when broadcast email surfaced as a seemingly no-cost alternative to the large expense of direct mail, the product managers were more than willing to compromise the big picture to send out one more email to promote a single product or event. Then another. Then another.

We knew marketing. We were on the side of the angels. We were protecting our members or clients from being barraged by email. We’d point to declining email open rates and unsubscribes. We’d jump up and down and say that we were protecting the brand.

“I get it,” my peer in another department would say. “But every time we send an email, we pick up five or six new registrations” (or sales).

Who was right? With the benefit of 15 years of hindsight, we both were right. Yes, it is a bad idea to over-saturate your clients and prospects with way too much email. But, yes, it takes persistence and five to 12 unique approaches to get 80 percent of people to buy or react.

I also will say that what we see more frequently than organizations over-saturating their clients and prospects with information is that they err on the side of not doing enough. In so doing, they’re working against the internal clocks that 80 percent of your market are commissioned to follow. You know who responds to your first or second email? The people who were going to buy under any circumstances. They’re the same people who pay their phone bills when they get the first notice, this when 80 percent of us know there will be five to 12 more notices before they turn the phone off.

There are too many options for you these days NOT to find ways to pitch an idea five to 12 times. Social media posts, digital advertising, direct mail, a survey, a presentation, a face-to-face meeting, a phone call.

Does a clever approach account for anything? You bet. Does your messaging need to be spot on? It does. Will the quality of your product or service play a role in the purchasing decision? Absolutely.

But it is the magic of persistence that will get you where you want to go.

My dad used to always say that the right thing to be able to say after a meal was “That was delicious. I wish I’d had a bit more.” In today’s world of marketing, I’d say the inverse should be true. In the end, you should say, “That was great. We probably did a little too much promotion.”

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