During a sales training workshop I conducted for a client last week, the biggest challenge that the group of sales reps faced was the ability to connect with prospects in order to schedule an appointment.

We brainstormed ideas including leaving high-value voice mail messages, using multiple media (telephone, email, direct mail, etc.), enlisting the support of an internal champion and calling at off times (early or late in the day).

Ultimately, at the end of the day, we agreed that there is only one strategy that will enable you to connect with key decision makers, prospects and contacts: persistence.

Here’s why: Your prospects are dashing from meeting to meeting or dealing with an ongoing slew of problems, which means they are away from their desks for a good chunk of the day.

When you’re fortunate enough to catch them at their desks, there’s a good chance they will glance at their caller ID display to see who is calling. Unless it’s a return call about an important issue they’re dealing with or an internal person (boss or direct report), it’s highly likely they will ignore the call.

A friend of mine is a middle manager in a relatively large company, and on average, he receives upward of 150 email messages every single day plus dozens of phone calls. He confided that he seldom returns a call from a salesperson unless that person has a unique product or service or he/she is exceptionally persistent.

Lots of people say you need to work smarter. Unfortunately, when it comes to connecting with busy customers you also need to work harder and longer.

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Kelley Robertson helps sales professionals master their sales conversations so they can win more business at higher profits. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at http://www.Fearless-Selling.ca.