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How to Be Persistent Without Being Annoying Try too hard to hook your customers, and you risk sending them reeling with anger.

By Barry Farber

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I've written a number of columns about prospecting--aboutselling from the top down, about building relationships, aboutbeing creative, about being tenacious when the going gets tough.These are all important points--especially the one about beingtenacious. But there's a fine line between being persistent andbeing obnoxious, and salespeople sometimes worry they're goingtoo far and pushing themselves right out of the sale.

Here are some tips to help you persist without annoyingprospects:

  • Deflect the resistance. If you keep calling and thecustomer keeps putting you off, let your customer take the lead.Say "There seems to be something I've missed. Is there anyinformation I need to know to better understand the fit between ourservices and what you're looking for?" Most customerswould rather help you make the sale than feel like they've beenmanipulated into it.
  • Learn as much as you can about the customer. Gatherinformation that has nothing to do with your goals or objectives,but rather with theirs. Ask yourself "How much do I know aboutthis customer? Did I demonstrate to him that I'm willing to putin the extra effort to earn his business? Do I know anything aboutthis customer on a personal level, like interests or hobbies that Ican relate to?" Finding answers to these questions is a greatway to build a bond and lower the annoyance factor.
  • Stress your belief that what you're selling has valuefor the customer. The stereotypical salesperson who turnscustomers off cares only about her own commission and doesn'tcare about the customer at all. Customers who feel like you havetheir best interests at heart will actually appreciate yourpersistent concern.
  • Use humor. This is a tough one, because what's funnyto one person may not be funny to the next. Often, poking fun atyourself can break down barriers. You might joke "It says inmy sales manual that customers say no six times before saying yes.This is my seventh call, and you're still saying no. Didn'tyou read the manual?" It's difficult for a customer to getmad when they're laughing at what you've said.
  • Don't get desperate. At the end of the day whenyou're ready to go home, make a few more calls. The moreactivity you have going on, the less likely you are to be desperateto make a sale. When you're desperate, you can easily cross theline between being persistent and being obnoxious. That's whencustomers know you're interested only in getting the deal. Whenyou have enough activity going on, you can make the decision tomove away from a sale that doesn't match the customer'sneeds.

Barry Farber is the author of 11 books on sales, management and peak performance. His latest release, "Diamond in the Rough" CD program, is based on his book, radio and television show. Visit him at www.BarryFarber.com, or email him at barry@barryfarber.com.

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