Do You Give Up Too Soon?

March 7, 2008

When you’re trying to find new business, do you give up after one phone call or email unreturned? Do you always take no as meaning, “no forever”, instead of “not for now”?

It’s easy to get disheartened when you’ve been rejected isn’t it? But, rejections in business are rarely personal. In fact, sometimes they’re not rejections at all. People lead busy lives. And often, they’re interested in what you have to offer, but they just don’t get round to following up.

When Your Calls and Emails Don’t Get Returned:
I’m one of those busy people myself. I often mean to follow up, but I just don’t get round to it. And other businesses can contact me 3 or 4 times, before I get round to looking at what they have to offer and buy from them. The sad thing is, no matter how good they are, if they’re not persistent, I don’t buy at all.

Being The Best Isn’t Good Enough:
I used to carry out a lot of flood restoration work in my last business and at busy times, I employed quite a few casual workers. During the summer of 2004 I took on a student who outshone all the other temps. And I said I would be happy to give him more work the next time he was home from University. At the same time, I employed another guy. He worked well under close supervision, but he was pretty mediocre.

Well, in January 2005, the city where I live was hit by severe flooding. It was chaotic. I got a message to say the star casual worker had called to offer a hand. But, I was extremely busy and I didn’t get time to call him back. In the meantime, the average temp turned up, as he knew we’d be snowed under with work. And we were able to give him employment for several weeks. But, the star temp didn’t call back, nor did he turn up and I forgot all about him.

A few months later, I bumped into the star temp’s mother and she told me he was disappointed as he’d wanted to help. It was a shame, because if he’d called me again, or just turned up, I could have given him any amount of work.

Don’t be disappointed like the star temp was. Be perceptive - people get busy and they don’t get time to call back. But, if you keep contacting them, you’ll be rewarded for your persistence.

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12 Responses to “Do You Give Up Too Soon?”

  1. Barbara on March 7th, 2008 8:28 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    That’s so true. I do think many don’t want to appear to be a nuisance, so they only contact you once, assuming you’ll get back to them when you have time. But when you’re in business, there are so many distractions and other responsibilities, it’s easy to forget about the person who wasn’t more persistent.

    What’s that saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”?

    Barbara’s last blog post..Your First Line Can Sink You

  2. dawn on March 7th, 2008 10:41 pm

    What you speak of is so true!
    We have a family story that we like to speak of, on how hubby got his civil servant job with our city. He went literally daily down to the city hall and inquired if they were ready to hire him yet. He did not let up - and continued visiting them almost daily. Within 3 weeks he was hired and has been a good employee for them for 28 years this November 1st. He wanted that job - and didn’t quit until he got that job!

    Also, true is when you say don’t take it personal. It’s funny how easy it is to slide into that frame of mind, when things don’t happen in “our” time frame.

    dawn’s last blog post..Martha Stewart - Oh My!

  3. Ian Denny on March 7th, 2008 11:15 pm

    Too often, we associate persistence with forceful sales.

    I was once taught that it’s rude NOT to sell. And I hate selling. I once sold a product I didn’t believe in. I thought I was rude selling it and I was. I left the company rather than take a well-paid position because the product was dreadful.

    You should never name names - especially on the Internet. But the company I’m talking about rhymed with Marclays. And it began with a “B”.

    But if you believe in what you do, you should NEVER get confused by a natural tendency to be polite. Because you are actually being rude not reminding people.

    If your product is good, then you’re absolutely right, the majority of the time people ARE interested, and they intend to do something about it but are busy.

    It is therefore rude NOT to remind them about a great product/service that they want.

    And you don’t have to be forceful. Gentle phone call reminders. An email. A letter. A fax. Whatever. You will never be accused of spamming (which by the way, too many people fear being accused of nowadays).

    I have a list of people whjo never gave me permission to email them. I have their business cards though. And I send the odd email circular. NOT selling though - with news or tips.

    When I have a sustained period of hearing people talking about spamming, I stop my polite communications. I believe that I’m interrupting people.

    Then I meet people. And they talk about my emails and the fact they haven’t heard from me for a while. Or one of them decides to become a client. And tells me that they bought, because they thought of me when they needed what I do because I take the trouble to email them and kep in touch.

    Some of them may have received 20 or more emails from me. None of them directly selling. But all of them giving value.

    This is a really good point that everyone in business should listen to. Follow people up. Repeatedly.

    If you begin to feel uncomfortable because you feel you are pestering, say so. Or switch medium. If you’re following up by telephone, switch to email. And vice versa. If you’re following up by email, switch to telephone.

    Even if you’re getting a switchboard operator checking with your contact and they’re coming back with “she’s in a meeting”, then it isn’t because they’re not interested.

    If it was, the switchboard operator would come back and say so.

    They’re giving the gatekeeper (the person who answers the phone) an excuse to but themselves time to look more carefully at what you’re offering. NOT saying “No”.

    Eventually, you will get through. Or get an answer to your email.

    We had one client today we had chased at elast 7 times. They rang back this morning to say “we’re not ignoring you, we’re just comparing your quote with others”.

    People don’t do that if they’re not interested. They’re only polite with the winning bidder.

    People don’t rng back the losing bidders. And this afternoon, towards the end of the day, they asked us to do an unrelated piece of work. And it was something they wouldn’t ask more than one company to do. It was a file server rescue job.

    We were originally quoting for replacing the file server.

    They wouldn’t ask us to rescue the file server to keep them alive unless they wanted us to do the big job - i.e. the replacement.

    And because we’d mixed and matched the follow-up - phone calls and emails, I think we won because it looked like we cared. We wanted the business. Did the other bidders follow-up as much as we did? I don’t know.

    But looks like we won.

    Signing off now. I promised myself a week of limited blogging. And I’m going beyond those limits!

    Great post!

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Blog Authors - How To Get More Comments Per Visitor

  4. cathlawson on March 8th, 2008 12:35 am

    Barbara - that is a good saying and it’s so true. And it’s a shame people give up so soon, because often the better business doesn’t win.

    Dawn - that is a wonderful story and a great example of true persistence. Your husband is living proof that it works.

    Ian - I thought you’d OD’d on those stop smoking pills! I was going to call you if I’d not heard from you by the morning.

    OMG - you worked for my - the thing that rhymes with tank but begins with B. Mind you they’re not as bad as Nat West - they are the biggest assholes on the planet. I hate banks. Now I can see why you get along so well with Drayton.

    More proof that it works - 7 times - that is persistence and you deserve the contract.

    One note - if you can’t get through and you’re targetting small businesses - it’s always good to ring after 5.30 pm as the business owner is often answering the phone then when everybody has gone home.

    It is funny you should mention people saying they haven’t heard from you. Years ago when nobody got any emails, I sent out my newsletter every Friday and when I packed in, people would email me and beg me to start sending it again.

    One guy went really OTT and threatened to sue me for not providing him with his free newsletter. I got scared and cancelled that email account after that!

    cathlawson’s last blog post..Do You Give Up Too Soon?

  5. Ian Denny on March 8th, 2008 1:39 am

    By the way, I love the “speak your mind” heading just above the comments.

    Yes, you’re right, the no smoking tablets did blow my mind! I feel as though I’ve been asleep for a week. But they’re working. And I’d rather sleep for a bit while I adjust and stop blogging/working etc to kill the habit.

    Means I’m awake at a funny hour! Seen the doc today, and know how to handle stuff now - I’m on 4 drug regimes at the moment, one I haven’t started, and 3 I’m trying to get balanced.

    I hate all banks. I worked for B*rclays before I knew how evil they were. I was only 21 at the time and the hourly rate was unmissable.

    As it turned out, you had to sell your soul to the devil to peddle their evil products. And they did a fantastic job of disguising the evil. Once you saw it, you either went, and as far as I know, the people who stayed are currently spending eternity in hell.

    I suspect N*twest would have been the same (late 80’s/early 90’s).

    Great tip on ringing late. All of these things I really want to do. Now.

    But I can’t! I;ve done that before and took on too much too quick!

    I’m just happy to be drawing a good wage. I’ve done the fast growth before and this time want to press pause and get everything absolutely right before we take on any more clients.

    We have a queue of them, but are being choosy. We could take on more, but have to be patient. And weirdly still promote ourselves even though we’re not ready.

    We’ve been recommending rivals recently, but the good ones we’re taking, and passing on the sub-prime clients (those we used to jump on with glee).

    Maybe once the drugs wear off I’ll weaken. But then again, it’s been a long time since I could take time off and not worry.

    Maybe at last we’re doing something right.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Blog Authors - How To Get More Comments Per Visitor

  6. cathlawson on March 8th, 2008 1:44 am
    Ian - it’s good that you’re taking time off to rest. Being ill and having all those drugs in your system is going to make you feel crap. And it’s a long time since I last tried to stop smoking but I can remember feeling more tired. I suppose nicotine is a stimulant, so it won’t be as easy to stay awake without it.
  7. Ian Denny on March 8th, 2008 2:14 am

    Still here!

    Agreed - nicotine withdrawal tires you. And so does all the stuff which gets you off nicotine. So it really is time to switch off if you want to stop. And I do.

    Time to sign off for a bit while I try (again!) to kill the addiction!

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Blog Authors - How To Get More Comments Per Visitor

  8. Monika Mundell on March 8th, 2008 12:51 pm

    @ Cath: thanks for this great post. It is good to remind ourselves that we should never give up when we try to achieve something and that includes contacting others.

    I must say, while I persist with my goals and dreams, I have given up while contacting prospective employers and not hearing back.

    I won’t do this again!

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Freelance Writing Blog Crawl - Round Two

  9. Monika Mundell on March 8th, 2008 12:53 pm

    @ Cath: as a second, I see you got the help of the boys too ;-) Blog looks great. I have yet to change mine as I need to rewrite all my content and add new stuff but it will happen soon.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Freelance Writing Blog Crawl - Round Two

  10. TzuVelli on March 8th, 2008 4:31 pm

    I think perseverance is the key to success.Great point and analogy. There is a fine line between persistence and being rudely over bearing. Knowing when you might cross the line comes from experience. It sounds as if the mediocre temp had more life experience and knew how to spot an opportunity.


  11. cathlawson on March 9th, 2008 5:26 am
    Hi Ian - Good for you. I’m going to try again soon. I will probaby sleep for a month.

    Hi Monika - you are welcome. I’m glad it’s helped. I know you’ll do well if you’re persistant.

    Aren’t Men With Pens wonderful? I’m looking forward to seeing your new design. Don’t worry too much about rewriting your content though. I think your content is great. And you could always upload the theme and change your content as you go if you wanted to.

    Hi Beau - that is very true. The mediocre temp was very streetwise and the star temp just wasn’t. I think he’s probably finished at uni now though and I know he will be a great asset to the people he’s working for.

  12. Nicole on March 10th, 2008 4:23 am

    I think, sometimes I give up too easy too.
    And often I do get very annoyed with people not responding.
    Especially emails.
    Or giving me a sloppy response.
    A good, motivating post though.
    I should print it and hang it on my wall :)!

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