You know the drill: you do a great sales interaction, cover as many objections as possible before they arise, ask for the order, and then continue to ask for the order.
One of the oldest idealisms in professional selling is that you cannot take “No” for an answer. And it is true, that as a professional sales person, you have to learn to deal with negative buying decisions and learn to turn some of them around into positive buyer agreements.
How Many “NOs” Should You Take?
So, of course, when the prospect objects, you are supposed to rebut that objection and persist. The prospect said “No,” but you ask again. You use all of the techniques you can as you do this of course, but you ask again, then again.
The question many sales people and more importantly, many buyers ask is when does that persistence cross the preverbal line and become harassment?
The Difference Between Professional Persistence and Harassment
That difference between professional sales persistence and harassment is YOUR MOTIVE. What is your reasoning for persisting? Why are you asking over and over?
Consider this example: You and a close friend are walking and talking. Your friend is so immersed in the story he is telling you, that he does not see a huge gaping hole in the street just ahead. You interrupt your friend and tell him that he needs to watch his step. However, he ignores you and continues talking, still not looking ahead. What should you do? Chances are you would try to alert your friend again and perhaps with a little more insistence. Yet, what do you do if your friend continues to ignore you and recognise the ensuing danger?
Would you continue to persist, even to the point of wrestling him to ground to protect him? Or would you just give up after one or two attempts, stand by and watch your friend fall in the hole and break his ankle or worst?
Professional Persistence Comes from Belief in What You Sell
The tale above may not be the best analogy, but I think you get the point. When you persist because you believe in your heart that it is the best thing for the prospect, the prospect can sense the difference.
However, when the motivation for your persistence is due to you desire to make the sale and your need for the money, there is a problem.
When you persist primarily due to your belief in what you sell, you can persist until you and the prospect feel that you have exhausted all the options. When persisting for your own personal benefit however, you can cross the line after just a few closing attempts.
What is the Difference Between Professional Persistence and Harassment?
The answer is simple:
Persistence for the benefit of the prospect = professional.
Persistence for the benefit of your pocketbook = harassment.