“Anything worth attaining will require persistence,” is the first lesson of entrepreneurship. This is especially the case when it comes to trying to close a new client. My mentor Grant Cardone said it best: “If you are one of those people that became convinced by your parents, teacher and environment that getting your way is a bad thing then you should avoid any job involving negotiating, debating, management and entrepreneurship.”
Persistence is a powerful tool, but it comes with some caveats. Below are five rules about when to follow up with clients – despite their original lack of interest – I wish I had known when I first started. They're pretty simple but I assure you that they will save you a lot of headache and trouble.
Get Your Head Right about the Ethics of Persistence
At first I was not successfully persistent because deep down I felt that there was something about it that was wrong. Often times I would talk myself out of following up with a potential client, and simply resort to giving up.
Then I realized my job as an entrepreneur is to solve people’s problems. After that when I was in a situation where a client wasn’t quite ready to move forward with my product, I would persist because I knew that what I was offering was going to be a solution to my prospect’s problem.
Persistence is actually a good quality, but you have to execute it correctly. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Don't feel like being persistent is the wrong thing to do when you are truly being of service to others. It's a powerful tool that shouldn't be dismissed: keep it at your disposal.
Consistency is Key
Being persistent doesn’t work if you aren’t consistent. For example a few months ago I was trying to get a particular entrepreneur on my Youtube show. I would drop a note every now and then to see if his calendar permitted him to do a thirty minute Google Hangout interview, but I was always unsuccessful.
The first thing I did when I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere was ask myself if my head was right about my persistence. It was. I knew that the interview I could have with this entrepreneur would be of so much value to others that it would actually be unethical of me not to put in the effort.
I also realized I hadn’t followed up thoroughly. Dropping an email every other two weeks and leaving a voicemail once in every blue moon just will not work. I began follow up several times a week, and shortly after changing my frequency he was able to make time for the interview.
Your Persistence Has to Be Creative
Another important factor of successful persistence is the level of creativity you use. If you only use dialogue and repeat the same point, sure, it's consistent, but it's not exactly engaging. However, if you use a visual cue or perhaps an indirect method affirming your persuasion, you're left with something far more effective.
People are more likely to respond to something with a creative edge than something that is plain and easily dismissible. Michael Lee-Chin is a Jamaican billionaire investor that I have a lot respect for. He built the largest privately held mutual fund company in Canada, and I’ve tried for almost a year to get him to give me thirty minutes of his time.
As you can imagine, he probably gets similar request from people every day. I knew I had to stand out, so I changed my approach. I sent books to his office, called the front desk at his company a few times a month, and even wrote to journalists who interviewed him. Lo and behold, I received a call from his assistant one day saying that he wanted to fulfill my request. It turned out that a journalist that had interviewed him received my letter and told him that he had to get in touch with me.
My point is, don't think a repetitive approach is always going to win over the person you're after. The efforts that I took may sound crazy but I understood that persistence was not a bad thing, and ultimately it got me the opportunity to learn from one of Canada’s richest men.
Avoid Being Creepy
That said, you have to be careful that you don’t come across as insane or creepy. One way I do this is to remind myself of what it feels like when someone tries to get my attention because they want to date me. After a while if the persistence isn’t done properly, I’ll just get really turned off because their actions become creepy.
Persistence is good but crossing the line of creepiness will ultimately kill what you're trying to do. Don't let consistency turn into obsession.
Never Make the Person You are Persisting with Wrong
Many times I have made the mistake of making the person I’m trying to persuade feel incorrect or at fault for not immediately seeing my side. While this seems like a sure fire way to show them they’re wrong, it's the opposite.
In fact, it will likely infuriate them that you're not trying to see it from their side. It shows that you only care about getting them to do what you want to do, which isn't very persuasive in most cases. Odds are, if you make your recipient feel invalid, they're going to immediately leave the debate completely.
The Bottom Line
The greatest piece of advice that I can give any entrepreneur is: if you completely know that your product or service can solve your prospect's problem, be deaf when they are told no, and insist that they do business with you. I have benefited tremendously from knowing this and it is my intention that you, the reader, may learn from the mistakes I have made with persisting.