In December of 2000 I made a significant career change. Prior to that time I had worked for only two companies, Radio Shack/Tandy Corporation and Cash America. I had either been responsible for the entire operations of the business unit or I ran store operations. While handling those responsibilities I never had the need to call a company and sell our services; I was the one that companies called upon. At Tandy, we had a non-written rule that all phone calls were returned before you went home that night. Mr. Tandy did it, and so would the rest of us. It was just the right thing to do, and I assumed that everyone followed that practice as well.
When I joined Buxton, I quickly learned an important lesson.
When I joined I asked Tom Buxton if I could just sell. I had had all the leading and supervising of people that I thought I wanted for the rest of my life. Tom was happy to oblige me. At that time at Buxton we did not have territories, industries, or even companies that we were assigned. We actually had many people calling on the same company, so whoever could get in the door would get the business.
So I found one of our databases on retail and quickly picked out retailers within Texas that I wanted to call on. It did not look like anyone else in the company was calling on them so I got to work. I figured this was going to be easy. I would call the proper executive (it was in the database and that had to be up to date :) ) tell them my background, they would meet with me and we would help them with their business. All very logical. But there was one fly in the ointment, one chink in the armor, one bump in the road, one hitch in the giddy up. No one returned my call. No one cared that I actually knew about their business, much less had actually been in one of their stores. They did not know how we could help them profitably grow their business because they NEVER returned my call. NEVER. I did not get it. And, if by chance, I reached an admin (the evil gate keepers), I would get the polite, but none the less fatal, “I will have them call you back.” It never happened. If I did not get to speak with the right person right then, I was not going to get a call back. Did these people not get the memo, didn’t they know they were supposed to call back everyone every day.
I will admit that it took me a month or so to stop being angry with these executives. It took me time to realize they lived in a different culture than we did at Tandy and that I was not going to change their culture. However, I still had a responsibility to my friend and family to be successful and if people did not call me back, I had to devise a different tactic to gain access to them. Thus was born the new campaign for access to decision makers. Now, before I tell you this secret that works, I will tell you that, even with the secret spelled out, most of you will not follow it. It will work 80% of the time. I proved it my last year and a half at Buxton by defining 100 companies that we wanted to penetrate with an appointment with a decision maker. Within the next 18 months we were in front of 80 of those decision makers. In the B2B world that is great success. So, it works, it is simple, and I know that the largest part of you will not follow the advice I am about to give you. You won’t follow the advice because you have to park your ego at the curb, and most sales people forget the objective of the exercise is to make sales and can’t park their ego.
The secret is Pleasant Persistence. That is it in a nutshell. You have to be Pleasantly Persistent. I cannot tell you how many customers have told me that they took my call because I always left a pleasant message and I always continued to call back, even without getting a call back. So, how can you stay Pleasantly Persistent when you are being ignored?
1. Realize that it your job to get in front of them, it is not their job to have a meeting with you. (Although I think it is their job to meet with you but that is a subject for another discussion).
2. On average it takes 7 calls to get to speak with someone. Most people stop at 2. If you keep going you are going to stand out just because people admire persistence.
3. There is no other option than being pleasant. You can’t call up a prospect and leave a message berating them for their lack of calling you back. You can’t be sarcastic to them; you don’t know them well enough to do that. You can’t threaten them by going up the ladder; that will certainly kill the possibility of a sale even if you do get to see them. So, you might as well be pleasant.
4. Constantly think about how you can help THEIR company with your product or service. I promise you that will come across as you leave your 7th voice mail.
5. Use your CRM tools to politely remind you that it is time to call people. If it is on your To Do List you are more likely to get it done.
6. Rejoice when you do get to talk with someone and let them hear it in your voice. People love to be around a winner and you just won where 90%+ of people would have given up.
So, it is a pretty big secret, but don’t worry about getting it stolen, because no one else is going to use it. They just won’t. If you become an advocate of our Pleasantly Persistent approach you will be leading the parade.
Now if you don’t want to be Pleasantly Persistent but still need to get in front of decision maker reach out to Axcelora as we can do the job for you.
Rich Hollander is a retail expert with over 40 years in the industry.