When Does Professional Persistence Become Badgering Harassment?

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Persistence: that all important ingredient that every sales person must possessThe sales professional makes a living by pman opposite womanersevering to get pass various problems, obstacles and objections.

Many sales people will tell you that the sale begins when the prospect says, “No.”  Indeed, if sales people accepted the first “no”, there would not be much of anything ever sold anywhere in the world.  Usually, the sales person must persist after receiving several “no” responses.

Is there a point, however, where persistence becomes harassment? Many sales people believe in the old philosophy “Never take no for an answer.”  So, how long should you persist?  How many NOs should you take?  Should you stay until the prospect has to have you physically removed?

The Difference Between Persistence and Harassment
The key to the answer is to understand the difference between professional persistence and harassment.  That difference is in your motive for persisting.  The difference comes from what is in your heart and mind.

Benevolent Motive
Consider this example: You and a very close friend or relative are walking down a quiet street, talking.  Your friend is so immersed in the story she is telling you, that she fails to see the big gaping hole in the street just ahead.  You interrupt your friend and tell her that she needs to watch her step.  However, she ignores you and continues on with the story, still not looking ahead.  What would you do?

Chances are you would try to alert your friend again and perhaps with a little more force.  Yet, imagine that your friend continues to shun your warnings and keeps going.  Would you continue to persist, even to the point of wrestling her to ground to protect her?  Or would you just give up after one or two attempts, stand by and watch your friend fall in the hole and break her ankle or leg?

Professional Persistence Comes from Enthusiasm Which Comes From Within
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 it is the best thing for the prospect, the prospect can sense the difference.  When your insistence is based primarily on your desire to make the sale, 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 benefit, however, you can cross the line after just a few closing attempts.

The bottom line:
Persistence for the benefit of the prospect = professional.
Persistence for the benefit of your pocketbook = harassment.

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 31 October, 2011

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