Before my staffing industry career, I sold properties for a home builder. In staffing, though I was making more calls and even increasing the number of my meetings, I struggled to close deals. I was working just as hard as I had in my previous job. Then, I connected with my customers as a person who understood what their lives would look like beyond the sale; I built relationships instead of transactions. To be successful in this industry, I realized I needed a new approach. What I discovered changed the game entirely. I discovered what I call “planned persistence.”

Many of today’s sales resources suggest leveraging social media and email marketing as an alternative to cold calling. It’s much easier to schedule a tweet and still feel productive. But I’d argue that we shouldn’t be giving up one method for the other — if anything, we should be applying “new school” marketing techniques with “old school” sales techniques.

The Process

Planned persistence is about more than just follow up — it’s about providing value with every single touch. It can take up to 20 calls to connect with a decision maker, and that’s on the low side. And in the HR industry, the average open rate for email is just 44%. But it’s not just because people are busy — it’s also because the salesperson hasn’t demonstrated value from minute one. Even busy people will take the time to listen if they believe they have a reason to do so.

In other words, there’s a good chance your prospect isn’t connecting because they have no idea who your company is or why your product is any better than the dozens of others they’ve heard about this week.

But what if you or your colleagues had commented on a post in a mutual LinkedIn group, sent a relevant tweet in response to something they had posted about the industry or written an email from their own work email address (not from the marketing address) to personally invite them to a webinar about the topics they were clearly interested in learning more about? Even if the next touch were a “cold” call, the prospect might already be warming up to your salesperson’s message. And that’s planned persistence.

Planned persistence takes bruteforce cold calling and adds a layer of finesse. It involves thinking like a marketer — and even collaborating with your marketing team — to build and improve your relationships. Planning your messaging and outreach prevents the follow-up from being annoying and keeps the focus on the needs of the buyers.

Planned persistence is a coordinated effort. It’s an overall go-to market strategy, where leadership plays a key role in its effectiveness:

The roadmap. Have conversations with your marketing team about their roadmap for the next 30, 60 and 90 days to understand what content and messaging they will be sharing.

Pain points. Work with marketing to conduct client surveys and map out the client experience. Define stages of the sales cycle for which marketing can provide thought leadership pieces.

Track touches. Keep track of calls and other touches using your CRM. Build predictive analytics around key activity to help producers fine-tune their approach and forecasting.

Nurture. Work with your marketing team to prepare an email strategy for those prospects you have connected with or develop a template that you can personalize so you can follow up after calls.

Automate. To ensure follow-up is occurring within a timely matter, technology can help augment sales associates’ personal touches with an automatic (but still thoughtful) nurture program.

Working with the marketing team to establish tools and channels of communication that help streamline and automate tasks can also make it easier for sales associates to adopt a planned persistence mindset without feeling like they’re doing unnecessary extra work.