It's been said that persistence is the key to success. And
generally speaking, I would agree.
But there are some situations in which too much persistence can be
For example, if you call a company once a month to market your services,
your persistence will probably pay off. On the other hand, if you call
the company once a day-or 30 times a month-your calls might become so
annoying as to ruin your chances of ever doing business with the
The Road Not Taken
How can you tell if your persistence is reaching the point of
diminishing returns? After all, it's nearly impossible to see yourself
as others see you.
To begin with, there are some subtle-and not so subtle-clues to as to
whether your prospects are suffering from sales fatigue.
For example, if people don't respond after repeated phone calls, emails
and instant messages, there's a good chance they've run for cover in
order to avoid you.
While it's tempting to stay on the attack, it may be more prudent to
either back off or find a third party to act as an intermediary.
Remember, beating on a turtle with a baseball bat only makes the turtle
that much more reluctant to come out of in his shell.
You should also look for polite euphemisms that might substitute for the
word "No," such as, "I'm in the middle of a project and can't make a
commitment right now," or "Can I call you back in a couple of weeks?"
When this starts to happen, it might be best to simply ask the person,
"I get the sense you're not very interested at this time. Would it be
best to just put the ball in your court and let you decide when we
Or, you might take a more direct approach and ask, "Am I coming on too
strong?" I worked for a manager, who was even more blunt. He would say,
"There's a fine line between being persistent and being obnoxious. And
I'd appreciate it very much if you'd tell me where I stand."
Go Tell It On the Mountain
Any time you're in a position of advocacy-and recruiters are highly paid
advocates, rewarded for our powers of persuasion-there's always the
potential for a conflict of interest. The potential is unavoidable, and
it's something we learn to live with.
But what's NOT unavoidable is attempting to reach our goals at the
expense of others-and thinking they're too stupid to see it. If anything
has changed since the early days of sales training, it's the fact that
prospective buyers are more sophisticated than ever, and more suspicious
of our motives. In a sales career, there's no hell like a prospect
If I begin to feel a wall separating me from a candidate or an employer,
'Look, can we call a time out? I'll turn my selling switch off if you
tell me what you really think, and I promise I won't try to argue with
Believe me, I know how much determination it takes to keep pushing a
heavy boulder up the side of a mountain every day. And the last thing
I'd ever want to do is rob you of your enthusiasm or take issue with the
obvious truth that hard work almost always pays dividends.
But in the long run, it's sometimes better to acknowledge a little
battle that's been lost, in the pursuit of winning a larger war.