Deadly Persistence

In business and sales, we frequently talk about the importance of persistence. And it can certainly be a valuable trait… but only when we’re doing the right things.

When we’re doing the wrong things, persistence can be harmful, detrimental or even deadly.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, my wife noticed something strange going on outside our home.

There was a bird that kept flying into the window on the side of our house again and again and again. It wasn’t big enough to damage the window, but if it kept it up, it would certainly kill itself.

As soon as one of us would go outside, it would fly away. But then, after a bit of a break, it kept coming back. It stopped that evening, but returned the next day.

It was clearly doing something that was harmful to itself, but it just couldn’t seem to stop. And it made me think of the many salespeople in our industry who do something very similar. They take the wrong actions with prospects and clients, actions that are harmful to themselves and deadly to their careers.

They experience the pain and frustration associated with doing the wrong things, hitting their heads against the wall each day — suffering through the long hours, the low paychecks, the lost orders, the wasted efforts and the unreturned phone calls, but instead of changing their actions, they just keep on doing it. And like the bird outside our window, I have to wonder… why?

If you feel like you’ve been beating your head against a wall, trying to sell to the unsellable, qualify the unqualified or get responses from the unresponsive, you are not alone. Much of the anxiety, frustration and burnout that happens in our industry is directly related to these activities.

Common wisdom and many well-meaning people tell us to remain persistent, stay focused, it’s all a numbers game, keep at it. And there’s a lot to be said for persistence… but only when you’re doing the right things. When you’re doing the wrong things, much like the bird attacking our window, persistence can be harmful, detrimental or even deadly.

What are the activities that are currently causing you the most stress? Attending networking functions that waste time and provide you with no good leads? Cold-calling rude, obnoxious, unqualified people who treat you like dirt? Spending hours chasing down artwork for small orders from small clients who have no likelihood of growing?

The good news is that you’re a human being. You’re not a bird. You don’t have a bird brain. You can decide when it’s time to stop being persistent and start being strategic. That means abandoning activities that create poor results, changing approaches that cause more harm than good and engaging in behaviors that are better suited to getting you the results you actually want.

When you’re ready to do that, you should give us a call us at 1-800-494-2721 and say, “I’m ready to start being strategic.” We’ll help you with a solution that won’t leave you banging your head against a wall.

Also, in case you’re wondering, I did help that bird with a new strategy. I put a few Mylar balloons outside the window, which distracted him enough to stop smashing his head into our window. So now he can spend his days building nests, gathering worms and making baby birds — being productive instead of just persistent.

If you’re new to the industry and need to get grounded in the essentials of promotional products sales, visit us online at If you need to get clients now with no distractions and no excuses, visit Or, if you’re a smart, focused, independent distributor doing a reasonable volume of sales, join the AIM SmartEQP community today at that’s

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