What’s With Persistence?

When I stand in front of a group of entrepreneurs or salespeople and talk about persistence, almost everyone squirms in their seat. The discomfort around following up, making multiple calls and connections, is almost universal. Why? I think it’s about semantics, the words we use and the stories those words can represent for us.

How can semantics impact our ability to follow up with prospects and customers? And how can we alter our behaviour?

The word persistence entered our language around 1540 from the Middle French and means lasting, enduring, permanent – all laudable characteristics. However, the word is often attached to things that are annoying. In the summer we speak about persistent mosquitoes, and in the winter, persistent colds. Headaches can be persistent and perhaps worst of all, so can aggressive tele-scammers.

It makes sense then, that when I insist “persistence” is a key element of success, I make people very uncomfortable. What’s the solution? I found it in my trusty thesaurus.

Consider this … when you follow up with prospects and clients, you are illustrating your:  steadfastness, endurance, stamina, grit, tenacity, constancy, pluck and resolution.

Aren’t these the characteristics of someone we’d all like to work with, have on our team? Don’t these words indicate that you can be trusted and that you have the ability to follow through on any project or assignment?

When we take full responsibility for reaching and following up with our prospects and clients, we prove that we can be proactive, that we know how to “make things happen”.

Persistence is essential … but perhaps it’s time I changed the word I use to describe this vital aspect of business success.


4 thoughts on “What’s With Persistence?”

  1. steadfastness, endurance, stamina, grit, tenacity, constancy, pluck and resolution. I am going to put those words on my whiteboard, right below my financial gross revenue goal for 2019.

    Every time I find myself getting off focus, I will look at those words and get on with the work which will bring me success.

  2. Great post Mary Jane. I often say that persistence and pressure are two very different things. As a seller, you earn the right to be persistent as you identify a genuine need while pressure is pitching before you even realize a need. Pressure is often recognized by repetitive and adversarial tactics while persistence is taking a number of different approaches to see the true problem and solve it collaboratively.


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