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Is your persistence a positive?

How to avoid talking yourself out of a sale through blind persistence

February 19, 2019  By David Fellman

This is the last instalment in my series on The top 5 ways to talk yourself out of a sale. We have covered too much talk/too little listen, too many features/too little benefits, pitching versus storytelling, and making it all about price. Today, the topic is persistence, which is generally considered to be a positive attribute for a print salesperson.

Sadly, I’ve seen too many salespeople talk themselves out of a sale through blind persistence, which I define as ongoing contact that adds nothing to a relationship.

On the other hand, I have seen many salespeople succeed through creative persistence. This is an important difference. You do not want to be the pushy salesperson who calls and e-mails to the point where your message is deleted the very second you are identified — you need to be the salesperson who engages through creativity and differentiation.


Read more
Part 1: Are you guilty of committing this cardinal selling sin?
Part 2: A reason to respond
Part 3: Pitching versus storytelling
Part 4: Do you make it all about price?

Selling yourself
As you surely know, it’s difficult to get prospects to even return your calls and/or emails, but why is that? I think it’s mostly because you don’t give them very good reasons to respond. In fact, I think most salespeople are focusing on the wrong goal at this stage of the process. I frequently get e-mails from salespeople who focus on why I should buy from them. The real question in my mind, at this stage, is why should I even respond to their messages? Think of it this way — you have to get me to engage and communicate with you before you can expect me to buy from you so do not, as we say, put your cart before your horse.

Instead of e-mails and phone messages that tout your company’s equipment or capabilities, consider something like this: “If I were you, I would be wondering if there is anything that makes this salesperson different from all the others who call on me. Here is how I would answer that question. I have 15 years of experience, and I think it’s fair to say I know just about everything that can go wrong with a print project. With me watching over your projects, you get to benefit from everything I have learned, and all the mistakes I made when I was a rookie many years ago. If that would be of value to you, we should at least talk.”

This may not be your message, especially if you are short on experience, but part of the point I want to make is that this is a differentiating strategy. It is not the same “please call me because I can save you money on your printing” strategy most salespeople seem to favour.

By the way, if you are short on experience, try this: “I think you should call me back because I have been working in printing sales for six months. That may not sound like something to be bragging about, but here is what I think it might mean to you. At this stage of my career, I have a very keen knowledge of how hard I must work to earn and keep someone’s business. If you do not think your current print salesperson is working that hard for you, we should at least talk.”

Creativity persistence
On a recent sales call with one of my clients, a prospect introduced me to the term drip marketing.
“We know we have a long sales cycle,” she said, “and we know it typically builds slowly, from recognition to mild interest to real interest. We have developed the strategy of telling just a little bit of our story with each communication. That way, we have something fresh to say every time, and we find this works a lot better than shooting off all our big guns at the first opportunity.”

In printing, we have a long sales cycle too, and I think drip marketing allows for an opportunity to be different. What if you design a program consisting of eight touchpoints over a 12-week period? Start with the overall story you want to tell and break it down into eight parts. For example, you could deliver three of these touches through e-mail, two by direct mail and three by phone. I would actually start this program with a call at an odd hour, in hopes of getting voicemail so I could leave a message: “My name is Dave Fellman. I am a printing salesperson and I would like to be your printer. I’d like to tell you a few things about myself and my company, but I don’t want to do it all in one sitting. Please keep an eye out for a series of communications from me. Hopefully I will convince you a little bit at a time that I am worth considering.”

Bottom line: Persistence is important but blind persistence will likely do you more harm than good. Creative persistence though, is a much different story.

Dave Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, a graphic arts industry consulting firm based in Raleigh, N.C. He is a popular speaker who has delivered keynotes and seminars at industry events across the United States, Canada, England, Ireland and Australia. He is the author of “Sell More Printing” and “Listen To The Dinosaur.” Visit his website at

This column was originally published in the January/February 2019 issue of PrintAction, now available online.

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