Sales Training: Persistence Pays

The sale doesn’t have to be closed the first or second time you encounter a customer. Nor does it have to happen the third or fourth time. A sale can take dozens, even hundreds of tries to complete – and even then, it’s not a guarantee. Many sales just never end up happening. It takes persistence and a thick skin to be a salesperson – you just cannot take rejection personally. Sometimes the customer just doesn’t need or want the product.

There are many tales of incredible persistence that emerge from the startup community, where an entrepreneur’s vision and passion for something enables him to persistently face rejection and achieve his goals. Here are two such tales:


As you all know, Pandora is a staple in many people’s Internet usage today – it’s a personalizable Internet radio station that adapts to your musical tastes and gives you an opportunity to discover new music. Sounds like a great idea now, but it wasn’t always perceived that way. It took an incredible amount of persistence to sell the entire premise to companies and consumers alike for it to reach where it is today.

In the early 2000s, when Tim Westergren first came up with the idea for Savage Beast, a music discovery engine, he needed something that would power the product. Thus, the Music Genome Project was born. It was an initiative to essentially define music by roughly 400 different characteristics, such as its tempo and key, even down to details like whether there was guitar picking in the song or not. This was a labor intensive process that required musicians (not computers) to individually listen to and track each song. Dozens of musicians were involved in the process, which took more than 6 years.

This process wasn’t cheap, and the money from the angel investment soon ran out. Tim was forced to let go of employees, and assumed the responsibilities of everyone that he was forced to fire. Nonetheless, he soldiered on with Savage Beast.

It wasn’t until the end of 2004 that Tim was able to secure $9 million in funding and deals with AOL and Barnes and Noble. Years (not weeks or months) after starting it, he was able to evolve Savage Beast into a commercially viable product, Pandora, as well as secure millions in funding, enabling him to rehire all the employees he’d been unable to keep on the payroll. It did, however, take an incredible amount of effort and persistence to pull it off.

Pebble Watch

You may have heard of the Pebble Watch – it’s the most successful fundraising campaign in Kickstarter’s history. It’s essentially a watch that enhances the functionality of your iOS or Android device, from serving as a bike computer to controlling your music. It can even be a way to read texts and see who’s calling you, from your wrist.

The product almost never existed, after Eric Migicovsky ran out of the initial 300,000 dollars of investment money during the development of the product. He pitched the idea to potential investors without success.

Undeterred, he decided to launch the product on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website. He set a goal of $100,000 to realize the project. To date, the Pebble Watch is the most funded project in Kickstarter history, with over $10 million raised.

In both situations, persistence pays. Neither Tim nor Eric were discouraged enough by the initial rejection to give up, and neither took the rejections personally. They just kept persistently working, and it paid off handsomely for them.