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Most salespeople don’t know when to quit. They don’t know when to quit talking, when to quit selling and when to quit trying. They talk too much, sell too long and give up too soon.

What’s worse, not only do some salespeople give up too soon, they often don’t even get started!

These salespeople are obviously not familiar with the Rule of 45 that says 45 percent of all leads turn into a sale for someone. Better that “someone” be you. Unfortunately, a lot of salespeople believe only 10 to 15 percent of their leads result in sales. Why? Because they give up on the opportunity and quit selling too soon.

Professional salespeople stay with an opportunity until the prospect either “buys or dies.” They don’t quit too soon. Consider these interesting statistics compiled by a sales and marketing firm in California.

The Number Of Calls It Takes To Close A Sale

  • 2% close on the 1st call
  • 3% close on the 2nd call
  • 4% close on the 3rd call
  • 10% close on the 4th call
  • 81% close on the 5th call

Notice that only 19 percent of the sales were closed by the fourth call. The majority were closed during the fifth call. Is five the magic number? Not necessarily, but these statistics tell us that the longer we hang in, the better our chances are of closing the sale.

So why don’t we hang in longer? Who knows, but the majority of salespeople don’t.

When Salespeople Quit

  • 48% quit after the 1st call
  • 24% quit after the 2nd call
  • 12% quit after the 3rd call
  • 6% quit after the 4th call
  • 10% quit after the 5th call

See what I mean by quitting too soon — 81 percent of sales are made after the fourth call, by which time 90 percent of salespeople have quit calling!

Why do we quit? In some cases, it’s that four-letter word — FEAR — that holds us back. Fear of rejection. Fear of being too pushy. Fear of making a pest of oneself. Fear of annoying the prospect. You get the idea.

On the other hand, some salespeople quit because they’re just plain lazy. But the main reason many salespeople quit working a sales opportunity is because they lack discipline and persistence.

Persistence is the key. It’s the ability to hang in after others would have given up. It means sticking to the job until it’s done. This doesn’t mean wasting time with a non-opportunity. It means staying with a properly qualified lead until the prospect buys or the opportunity dies. Keep in mind that the older the sales lead, the less competition you’ll have because most others will have given up. The odds are in favor of the persistent salesperson.

Being persistent does not mean being a pest, another “P” word. The best way to make sure you’re not being a pest is to have a reason for your call or visit, other than just following up on the opportunity. Never sell (or follow up) empty-handed.

Using value-added selling techniques will ensure you get a warm reception from your prospect. So make sure you have something of value to offer your prospect when following up. That “something” might be a relevant article, additional or new product information, a revised quotation, or simply some information that is of interest to your prospect.

What if you’ve persisted, but the prospect still hasn’t bought or told you it’s a no-go? Many prospects don’t like to be bearers of bad news and will avoid telling you that they have no intention of buying. One way of finding out is to simply ask your prospect. If you suspect that your prospect might be inadvertently stringing you along, call your prospect and say something like this, “Steve, I’ve been following up with you for some time now and I don’t want to be a pest. Should I close my file until a later date or would you prefer I continue to monitor the situation with you?” This gives your prospect an out without them feeling they are offending you.

On the other hand, if the opportunity is still alive and you are being considered, the prospect is more likely to tell you to stay in touch. And now you have their permission to continue with your professionally persistent efforts.

Selling is difficult. It’s easy to give up too soon and many salespeople do. But persistence pays, and it can pay big for those sales professionals who know when to quit but don’t quit too soon.