Anyone who has experienced sales training knows the old adage: Most salespeople give up far too early. One call, or contact, and silence, and then, nothing.
But there is another side to the equation, when persistence overreaches and diminishing returns occur.
Hubspot says it recently analyzed 3.5 million leads (across all industries) and has determined that if you can’t reach a prospect by the sixth phone call or fifth email, you should give up.
Leads called seven times are 45 per cent less likely to respond than those contacted six or fewer times, and if you go to six or more mails, you will be 36 per cent less likely to succeed than if you stop at five emails or less.
You should of course take this information with a grain of salt. The data is generic and may not apply to all industries. But when you think about it, it makes sense.
As a rule, salespeople give up earlier in the process because the potential client isn’t well-defined or suitable — or there is no connection, or the sales rep has something better to do (usually). But there are a smaller group of initiatives (and even smaller numbers of sales reps) where the story continues,
However, there is a limit.
In my 25 years of business, I’ve only experienced excessive persistence once. A salesperson called, and called, and called, and followed up, and followed up and followed up. Initially, I was ready to consider the idea (he provided a service to publishers). But somewhere after perhaps the sixth call, I had had enough — so I called the guy’s boss and told him that while I had been thinking of doing business with the organization, this is now not going to happen because the salesperson had persisted far too hard. I asked him to get the sales rep to stop calling me because I would never now purchase anything from that company.
Of course, you should consider the rareness of this situation Certainly I’ve had many encounters with sales reps in a quarter century in business, and this problem only occurred once.
This suggests, perhaps, that the focus should be less on giving up when you are pushing too hard, to giving it a bit more effort if you really have something useful to deliver. Just be sure you do, because banging your head against the wall won’t get you far, no matter how much you try.