While persistence is certainly a must-have trait for anyone who wants to succeed in the construction industry, nagging isn't so highly regarded. The fact is that it's not always clear to determine where the line must be drawn between the two.
Who wasn't told to stop "nagging" when they were a child? The truth is that children are the very best salespeople. They take the art of persistence, and oftentimes whining and nagging, to impressive levels. Unfortunately, restraint and tact also become essential skills once you hit adulthood and have to sell to someone other than to your parents.
For those trying to close new business, it's instrumental to understand where nagging meets persistence. The best salespeople navigate very close to the line of nagging, but never cross it. This requires the ability to recognize when a request or a question is self-serving and doesn't offer a benefit for the person being queried. Persistence is no doubt a good thing, but to be perceived as persistent yet not a nag requires the mastery of the following skills.
Professionals who use persistence to their advantage are very aware of their prospects' and customers' schedule. They respect and understand the time constraints of others and "get" that their priorities most likely don't include listening to lengthy sales pitches. To maximize opportunities, those who are successfully persistent plan for delays, cancellations, and interruptions by having back up plans such as sales material that can be left, flexibility to reschedule, and the know-how to consolidate presentations into brief, yet effective sales tools.
When repeatedly touching bases with a prospect, you'd better offer something of value with each attempt to reconnect. No one appreciates someone who is just "following up" or "checking in." It's a waste of time and frankly irritating. Instead, come with information, an invitation, or an introduction in hand. This is how you'll be viewed as offering value as opposed to being just self-serving. Even a small gesture such as sending a link to a relevant article or providing an update on a happening in the industry will demonstrate that you're bringing something more to the table than just your attempt to sell.
Self-awareness and the sense to know when to rein it in is vital for anyone in sales. Sure, you can't lose what you don't have, but you can definitely irritate prospects and customers to the point where they will nix you from all forms of communication. Don't do it! Once again, it leads right back to respect, value, and, of course, consideration. Being able to balance that hunter mentality with the sensitivity of understanding that someone might not have you at the top of their priority list is a valuable skill that is honed over time and with practice.
Finally, smart prospecting requires much more than just shooting off an email or making a call. Keep track of whom you're calling, the conversation, the outcome, and how best to follow up. Don't attempt to keep all of this data in your head. You'll inevitably slip up and forget to call someone or call someone who didn't need a call back. Utilize a touchpoint management system that keeps you in check and on schedule.
Finally, remember that every prospect and customer is unique. Don't set arbitrary rules that draw the line on the number of attempts you make. There is simply no set number that applies to everyone. By hanging in there, showing respect, and offering value with each and every contact, you'll eventually get the business and will maintain your reputation for professionalism in the process.
Adrian Miller is President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales consultancy that she launched 20 years ago. Adrian provides real-world, highly practical sales skills training programs and delivers executive level sales strategy consulting. She is the author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success" and is a highly regarded speaker and consultant.