For association management companies and their clients, great potential for revenue growth lies simply in a little extra effort. Ask one more time. Follow up with that prospect one more time. Don't take no for an answer. Find out how perseverance today can lead to tomorrow's growth.
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
Thomas Edison said that. And he's a man who knew a thing or two about failure.
This is one of my favorite quotes in the world.
Because all of us can think of times in our lives when we'd had enough, when we were ready to quit, but we didn't. We tried again. Just one more time. And it was enough. As Edison said, that one extra effort is often the difference between success and failure.
Recently, my new book, The Revenue Growth Habit, was selected as the sales book of the year for 2015 by the business retailer 800-CEO-Read. Also, Forbes selected it as one of the top business books of the year. This makes me particularly happy because the publishing industry rejected my book more than 50 times, over years, before I found it a home with the excellent publisher John Wiley & Sons.
In fact, Wiley itself rejected my book twice before it finally bought it.
Even the editor who eventually bought it had said no before I called him again, against my own agent's advice, and sold him the book.
Here's the thing for those of us working on revenue growth in our companies and associations:
No never really means no.
It simply means not at this moment. So, we must give people another moment to say yes. If the buyer isn't buying, don't quit on him. Try again. Then again. And again.
No never really means no. It simply means not at this moment. So, we must give people another moment to say yes.
The beauty of our work is that we only really need one yes! The number of rejections don't matter, because we only need one yes.
In fact, one of the revenue growth techniques I've been teaching a lot lately focuses on going back to everyone who told you no in the last year and restarting the conversation.
"Listen, Tom, I know we tried to connect on this last year, but here we are in 2016—should we revisit that conversation?"
Another powerful revenue growth technique is to follow up on quotes and proposals. The customer asked you to write up a quote. You dropped what you were doing and did it. The customer doesn't respond. (Silence!) Time to follow up again.
I teach a simple three-email follow-up technique that closes 20 percent of these quotes and proposals that you don't hear back about.
What are we talking about here?
We're systematizing and formalizing perseverance.
I'm teaching clients' staffs to simply try again. This is how complicated revenue growth is!
Last April I was speaking at a convention and one of the other speakers was the legendary psychologist and author Martin Seligman. He is one of early researchers in behavioral psychology and universally credited as the founder of the field of positive psychology.
I studied him in college, and I was amazed that he was standing here, on the same stage I was also presenting on.
During his speech, he said something I will always remember: His research has found that perseverance and resilience are twice as important to success as talent is. That is, perseverance and resilience are two-thirds of the equation to success, and talent is just one-third. Think about the power of this.
Never Say Never
Last year, we moved homes.
In the backyard of the old house were two maple trees my wife and I planted when my children were born. These were important trees to us, deeply meaningful, and we wanted to bring them with us to the new house.
Turns out, when you're moving established trees, you can't just have people dig it up with some shovels. You need what they call a hydraulic tree spade to do the work. This is a huge piece of machinery, mounted on a flatbed truck the size and weight of a cement mixer.
In the Chicago area, where I live, there are maybe a dozen of these companies.
I called them all, and they all told me no. They didn't want to do a little back yard project. These people do golf courses and parking lots and office complexes.
One guy agreed but emailed me the night before the work was to be done and cancelled.
The closing on the old house was days away, and I had spent six weeks looking for a company to help us with the trees with no luck.
My wife told me to give it up and buy a couple new trees. (We could have planted a forest for what this service costs!) My parents told me to give it up, and even these tree people told me to just buy some new trees.
That wouldn't work for me. I wanted these trees.
So, I started calling companies in Wisconsin. It took another dozen calls to find somebody to do it. We got the trees moved. They're in the front yard now, closest to the sidewalk and the street, for everyone passing by to enjoy.
After the trees were moved, my wife said to me, "I don't know anybody else who would have persevered like this to get these trees here."
Revenue growth is the same way. Anything worth having is the same way.
People will always tell us no. We must simply give them – or someone else – another opportunity to say yes. Try again. Then again.
We only need one yes. Keep trying until you get the yes. And you will get the yes.