How Persistence Builds Trust

sales manager speaking on the phone

Persistence remains a challenging topic for the business owners, entrepreneurs and salespeople who work with me. For some reason, persistence and pestering get intertwined and while the two words may start with the same letter, they are not at all alike.

The word persistence comes to us from 1540 Middle French and means lasting, enduring, permanent, while the word pest, from 1550 Middle French, means “plague, pestilence, noxious or troublesome person or thing”.

How does persistence create trust? And why does it build strong relationships?

Embracing persistence is essential to successfully growing your business and generating revenue because “actions speak louder than words”. The act of being persistent says “I am trustworthy” and highlights the value of building a relationship with you.

We are a pest when:

  1. We continue to contact a prospect or client who has already told us “no”.
  2. We approach potential clients that will not receive any benefit from our products or services.
  3. We approach potential clients without understanding anything about their work or the value we might deliver to them. (Examples of this include calls I’ve received to sell me a postage meter and an ad in

When we are persistent, we are saying:

  1. I’m confident my product/service has value for you, so I’m not going to give up;
  2. I know you are busy with your chosen priorities, so I’m taking full responsibility for reaching you; and
  3. You and your company are important to me so I am going to continue to work to earn your trust and respect.

Here are two stories that highlight the value of persistence.

Years ago, I sat across the desk from the senior sales manager for a major car retailer. This meeting was to talk about the content for a workshop he had already hired me to create. He looked me directly in the eye and said, “Do you know why you’re here?”

The question startled me. I said, “Because we want to create a workshop for your team.”

“No,” he said. “You are here because you called me six times. I count the number of messages salespeople leave me. If they give up at three or four messages, I’ll never work with them. I can’t work with people who give up. Your persistence proved that you want to work with us and that you can be trusted to do everything that’s necessary.”

Lesson learned.

A year later I was approached by a large healthcare company to speak at their national conference. There were a lot of people involved in the decision and, it turned out, they’d never invited an outside consultant to be a speaker. In the end, the proposal was not approved but I did stay in touch with my main contact.

The following year, my second proposal was not approved either. By this time my contact and I were really enjoying our phone conversations. It was easy to stay in touch and put forward a third proposal a year later. It got accepted.

This experience taught me that trust develops differently for everyone.

There are some clients who contact me, discuss a project and say ” yes” immediately. There are others who need to take their time.

The word trust comes to us from the 1200’s Middle English and means to be firm, solid, steadfast. This is why persistence – not pestering – proves you are trustworthy to even the most skeptical of your prospects.

Is persistence already part of your sales process? Do you have a story to share? Please include it in the comments below.

Next week I’ll share some ideas on how to be consistently persistent.


8 thoughts on “How Persistence Builds Trust”

  1. These stories I’ve heard from you before and boy, do they stick with me!! So telling for those of us (read – all of us) who think we are “bothering” others with our message. Are we worth it or not? That’s the question. If you don’t think you’re worth it, it will show with lack of persistence. Thanks, Mary Jane!

    • Thank you, Steve. I always thinks of you when I write about persistence. You are an excellent example of following through and not giving up.

  2. Very good article Mary Jane. I have experienced this situation as well. For years I was trying to obtain work from one on my clients’ owner. Any job that he was looking after, we couldn’t get our foot in the door, even though we were dealing with several of his employees at another branch. We were persistent and made sure we always quoted him and followed up. Finally he gave me a chance because of my persistence and because of the good things he heard from his employees about our service level. Now he’s a loyal client who relies on our knowledge in our field, especially when he’s stuck. It’s a fantastic feeling to be able to offer a service that benefits your clients, not just take their money when selling something to them.

    • Thanks, Scott, for taking the time to share this great story. It really illustrates another point … change is difficult for some people. You continually proved to this client that you were reliable and eventually he heard you.


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