Persistence can be a good thing in sales.

But it can also be a waste of time.

And at its worst, persistence can damage your confidence and zap your enthusiasm for your goals.

So when is persistence good? When should you persist in following up with a prospect, and when should you walk away and move on to greener pastures?

Most sales people intuitively know the general answer to this. You persist as long as you think you have chance, and you walk away when you believe you no longer have a chance.

A lot of sales people seem to get both sides of this idea wrong.

Some sales people don’t persist enough. Most sales people will give up on calling someone – whether it’s a cold call, or even someone who they’ve had some sales activity with – after only 3 calls.

Other sales people will hold on too long. They’ll ride the deal all the way to they’re kicked out and told that the competition got the business.

I have a couple of distinctions that may help you know when to persist, when to pursue, and when to walk away.

When you are prospecting, or “marketing”, you have insufficient information about your prospect to know how long you should pursue. So your goal in this initial phase with your prospect is engage him long enough to qualify him.

You may have to persist through many, many contact attempts over a long period of time, just to get enough information to decide if you can even sell to your prospect.

So that’s pretty simple. Just think of your prospecting as marketing.

Once you have qualified a prospect though, your approach should change.

You should start getting commitments for your sales efforts.

I frequently get asked questions like this one…

Shamus what should I do when I have sent a proposal, and then I follow-up, and follow-up, and follow-up to see if they are ready to make a decision or what they want to do next?

If this describes your selling experience, then you are persisting too much, and you are wasting valuable sales time on a lot of prospects who’ll never buy.


Because you shouldn’t be giving proposals out like this. Instead you should be verbally discussing and negotiating for exactly what needs to be in a proposal, who needs to review, consider, and approve it, and what needs to be addressed to get it approved.

In short you should know before you create your proposal exactly what needs to be in it to get it approved.

When you sell this way, you are always in control. You nail down exactly what is going on, and you don’t waste time.

If you gonna lose, you’ll find out early, or at least at the same time the customer figures it out.

And if your gonna win, you’ll find that out early too. And you can sell to the close with confidence.

Persist when you are prospecting and get commitments when you are selling.

Follow those rules and you’ll sell more.

Sell with Pride,

Shameless Shamus Brown

P.S. Discover my sure-fire method for figuring out fast who is going to buy from you and who’s going waste your time right now with the Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program.