Perseverance will give you a major edge on competition, but the problem is, you can sometimes be so absorbed by your business that you miss the opportunities and the simple solutions that exist for growing it.  Solutions and ideas that, are blindingly obvious, once you acknowledge them –but are amongst the best kept secrets on the planet if you’re not tuned in. 

An interesting statistic is floating out there that suggests if you were to visit 100 potential customers who could find value in your fulfilling need you provide, that only two would purchase that same day.  People in business often hope and expect to do business the first time when meeting with a potential customer.  Sadly, the sale doesn’t close and the potential customer is often ignored. 

For the two that would buy at a first meeting, the tendency is that those people already took the time to understand the subject matter, and already knew what they were looking for.  If they meet someone who hits on all cylinders and the relationship is mutually beneficial, then business very well may occur.  But that is far from the norm and small business owners need to take notice.  How often have you purchased a product without having that void filled called ‘trust’ from someone you just met? 

Any small business owner who believes that they can just flip around their open sign and head into a sales situation armed with the “Top 100 Sales Close Techniques” and actually close the sale is seriously anchoring for a misfortune of swing and miss.  Small business owners need to get to know their potential customers.  There are links to research that quantify the reason(s) behind relational marketing and the extreme importance of it for any business, let alone a small business, struggling or not.  A successful small business owner will solve real world problems for their customers, not just with the products they sell but with the resources and tools they have to help their customers succeed in their individual or global quests.  They build relationships and trust by engaging in ongoing dialogue, (otherwise known as follow-up).  The successful small business owners don’t just peddle their products or services with an armory of closing techniques.  They go beyond those levels and use perseverance to establish a relationship.

“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise,” says Professional Sales Coach Patricia Fripp.  People and companies who don’t follow up, who do nothing to build up that trust and relationship, cannot succeed, especially in today’s tough economic climate where 84 businesses across the U.S. close permanently every single day of the year.   Your customer wants to be sure they’re making the right decision before they commit to a purchase of any kind with your business, and that is where perseverance and tenacity can result in sales.

Different studies carried out over different times, in different places, by different market research firms over a number of years all reveal that 80% of non-routine sales occur only after at least five follow-ups.  Think about that for a moment.  It takes five continuous follow up efforts after the initial sales meeting, before a customer will say yes.  FIVE!  So how do you change that outlook to better benefit your business? 

Be the 56% of the small business owners who are selling products, services, or expertise to NOT give up after the one “no” at the initial meeting.  Let’s go a step further shall we?  Did you know that after a second time of trying to convince a customer that they need your product, service, or expertise, that the odds tip in favor of those small business owners who continue to dust off their knees in rejection and get back up to swing the bat of success, because 66% will never come back again after a second rejection.  After the fourth attempt, 94% of all small business owners will quit on that potential customer, period.  This puts you as having strong potential to succeed because only 6% will fight for the deal after the fifth encounter, and that is the degree of separation from those businesses who become one of the 84 that close and the one that grows on forever becoming a staple in their community. 

What meaningful communication strategies do you have in place right now to maintain that top of mind awareness once someone has either contacted you, walked-in to meet with you, or shown interest in your product, service, or expertise via some sort of web platform?  How do you nurture your clients so that they can begin to trust you and see you as a true professional business eager to succeed?  

Here are some ideas to consider for your small business that I have implemented in my own campaigns to create opportunity and success with every customer I meet:

  • Rejection #1:  Send a ‘personalized’ thank you card.  Not an email, an actual card that is handwritten by you demonstrating the difference between you making the time for someone and your competition looking generic.
  • Rejection #2:  Sweet treats.  So many times I have gone to different cities, been rejected by a large organization and sent the department a “sweet treat” from a local bakery in their area.  It creates conversation among your potential customer employees, and is easily remembered.
  • Rejection #3:  A book.  Yes, I said a book.  Not just any book, but a book that fits the issues my potential customers are going through.  Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find a book that kind of explains a purpose or niche that falls right in line with what you are selling as a product, service, or expertise. 
  • Rejection #4:  Again, a ‘personalized’ thank you card.   Perhaps a coffee mug with some coffee supplied in it.  Nothing real fancy here, just enough to be creative. 
  • Rejection #5:  There is little to no rejection.  You have passionately demonstrated care about that potential customer, developed a strong relationship with them,  and the time came to close the deal. 

Perseverance and tenacity could be critical to your survival of your small business. Be the difference-maker that customers find as unique, important, and knowledgeable, and you will live a long healthy life as a small business owner.

Get Focused.  Get Busy.  Sprout and Grow.

About the Author(s)

P. Simon Mahler

P. Simon Mahler volunteers as a SCORE Mentor. Dedicated to building stronger economies and launching his next start-up, Pando Logic, Simon is committed to the success of each and every small business he mentors.

Entrepreneur, SCORE Mentor, Mid-Columbia Tri Cities SCORE
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