Persistence and the honourable retreat

Because a prospect isn’t interested now does not mean they can be written off forever; you may just need to prudently persist. SUE BARRETT

Did you know:

  • Over 50% of sales people give up at first contact if they get a “no” from the prospect and never to go back to that prospect again.
  • At the fifth contact, 7% of sales people are left to speak with the prospect to see if they can do business together.
  • At the eighth contact, there is only one sales person left to work with the prospect. Hopefully it is you.


Many sales people, especially those new to sales, often take it personally when a prospect says no. Many fail to persist and often fail to favourably position themselves to “leave the door open” for future contact, thus limiting their sales opportunities even further.


Now I understand there can be a fine line drawn between persistence and harassment, however in order to have a steady stream of sales coming in the door we need to ensure that we have a regular mix of prospecting activities happening on a daily basis.


Sometimes we will strike viable and interested prospects and other times we come across viable but not interested prospects. Don’t burn those viable and not interested prospects as they may become viable and interested in the future. But you will never know if you don’t go back.


Here are some handy hints to make sure you can go back to these prospects in the future and give yourself a chance of working with them.


Don’t take it personally


If a prospect doesn’t commit to seeing you it could be due to one of the following reasons:

  • They do not have a need right now.
  • They do not fit your target market.
  • They do not perceive having a need right now.
  • They have other associations or relationships.
  • They are not convinced they need to see you.


Honourable retreat


Don’t give up. Whenever you make contact with someone make sure you always leave a favourable impression. Make sure they felt it was worthwhile to speak to you even if they don’t fit your target market – you never know who they might know.


Allow for the honourable retreat, and if they cannot meet with you now:

  • Seek permission to send some information for their review.
  • Seek permission to follow up in the future.
  • Seek permission to keep in touch in case their current suppliers cannot support them in the future.


Ask for a referral


Follow up with persistent daily effort. Choosing your state of mind, your attitude, is critical in when prospecting and selling too. Successful salespeople know that prospecting doesn’t happen by chance – it requires a consistent and persistent effort.


Successful sales people:

  • Diarise follow up calls.
  • Use a CRM to track activity.
  • Keep a number of activities on the go.
  • Prioritise.
  • Persist.


Happy and prosperous selling.



Sue Barrett is founder and managing director of BARRETT, a boutique consultancy firm. Sue is an experienced consultant, public speaker, coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating high performing people and teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. Click here to find out more

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