Why Great Sales People Don’t Quit

Seth Godin wrote the book on quitting. “The Dip” describes how, in life, you can be more successful by picking your battles. His philosophy is that people need to learn the difference between what he calls “Dips” and “Cliffs”.

“Dips” are scenarios where it is worth being persistent. There may be no reward in the short run, but perseverance pays off over time. “Cliffs”, on the other hand, are situations where no amount of additional effort will lead to success.

So, how do you know when to quit on a sales prospect?

Being curious, we asked some sales people and quickly learned that quitting is not something that comes naturally to them. To illustrate the point, one customer shared some analysis into a deal she had just closed. This is a $120K deal that had been open for 65 days.

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The orange bar is the Datahug Deal score. It tells you how well a sales rep is engaging a prospect based on their communication patterns. It is scored out of 100 and takes inbound and outbound emails, as well as calendar and calls into account. As you can see from this graph, a couple of weeks before the deal closed, things were looking bleak (on paper).

The blue bars represent the (cumulative) number of unanswered emails that this sales rep sent to the prospect, before they finally became responsive and quickly signed a contract. There were eight unanswered attempts in total.

In other walks of life, most people would have given up after 3/4/5 attempts at success. Even an Inside Sales or Sales Development Rep gives up on a new lead after five or six touches.

This example, and many more we’ve seen, tells us that once a deal is qualified (becomes an Opportunity), persistence is the key to success. If a prospect ends up choosing a competitor, they will usually tell you. In general, it’s easy to say “no thanks”. If they become unresponsive, it is more often a sign that they’re just too early in the buying cycle.

Our Advice: The best bet is to keep up the engagement on your side. If you have built a relationship, prospects will appreciate polite persistence, especially if you provide useful advice, guidance, perhaps a case study or some educational material. If you haven’t gotten to that stage, don’t assume the right to appear in their mailbox every Tuesday morning. And beware of the Marketing Automation nurture campaigns. Nobody you’ve made the effort to get to know will like being assigned to the robots.

At Datahug, we’ve found that customers have increased conversions and widened the deal funnel by maintaining the rhythm of communication with qualified prospects. It can lead to an increase in sales of up to 21%.

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