Monday, July 15, 2013

Persistence is Key

If you follow my blog, you know that I tend to draw inspiration about business (and life) from various TV shows like Downton Abbey, Shark Tank and Million Dollar Listing, because I believe that it should be educational as well as entertaining. Right?!

This post is no different. This weekend, I watched the movie Won't Back Down starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal. 
Two determined mothers­, one a teacher, look to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.
If you haven't watched the movie, I suggest that you do because there is a VERY important business lesson to obtain from it - Persistence is KEY!

A few months ago, I reached out to a friend/future client of mine by phone. I heard lots of noise in the background as I was mousily asking if it was a bad time. After 2 or 3 times saying it and realizing he really couldn't hear me and I didn't want to yell, I just said, "I'll hang up and text you." I sent the text message - "Hey, it's Nikki Johnson, I was just checking in with you to see how things are going." His reply - "Oh HEY! You need to be more assertive!"

I totally didn't see that coming and frankly, I was taken aback by it. But, after a few more seconds of thinking about it, he was right.

I grew up in a household that filled with loud-talking/yelling, so I really try not to speak too loudly. I also have an inherent aversion to being too persistent because, as I was told in my youth, "You really don't want to bother people." So as an adult, and especially one in business, it's hard to discern when you're being a nuisance, when you're talking too loudly and when you're just being persistent and assertive.

What the movie pointed out for me is that assertive and persistent people actually GET SHIT DONE! If you want to be a SUCCESSFUL entrepreneur, it's important to understand these keys. There is nothing wrong with speaking up to ensure that you are heard and it's not the same as yelling. There's also nothing wrong with asking for what you want until you get an answer.

I have people tell me all the time that they want to work with me and then in some cases I don't hear from them again. I generally live by the philosophy that if you have to drag them in the door, you are going to have to drag them around, or the more aptly put, if you have to beg them to work with you, you're going to have to beg them to pay you. That's not always the case. Life happens. Sometimes people see something that they are completely interested in doing and then, the phone rings, the kids cry, their favorite show comes on, they have to do something, and a host of other situations come up and they're off to the races, leaving your business card on the table or your email unanswered. It's not ALWAYS intentional, but you have to learn the difference. The only way you can truly find out is by being persistent.

If you want something, if you want to work with someone, etc - assert yourself and be persistent until you at least get a response. Persistent salespeople tend to be the top sellers. The caveat to that is, you have to know the line between being persistent and worrying someone to death (which almost never ends favorably). Persistent applies to the follow-up - you contact them, then you follow-up a week or so later, then maybe a couple of weeks after that, especially if they have shown signs of interest in working with you. Hounding them is when you contact them, then you call them again the next day, then you call them again 2 days later, then you email them and then call to make sure they got the email, and see where this is going?

Be charming. Be memorable. Be assertive. Be persistent. DON'T be a pain in the ass!