Perfecting Pleasantly Persistent

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If you run a boarding operation, whether for sport or breeding, you understand that horse owners are busy folks. So how do you either get the attention of (and answers from) your current clients, or those you would like to be your clients? Be pleasantly persistent!

There are many ways to get attention; pleasantly persistent is one of them that works. Children learn this (or something like it) at an early age. They pretty much keep asking for something they want until the answer is “NO, and never ask again!” or “Fine! Here! or Go ahead!” which is what they wanted in the first place. The key is getting to the go ahead without crossing the NO! line.

Adults tend to forget this, or they fear crossing the fine line into NO! Professional sales people understand this kind of risk, but often those who are networking or don't really consider what they do "sales" neglect to follow through to the end.

So where is the line? Ah, that’s the key, isn’t it. The line isn’t in the same place for everyone. One person might get to the door slamming phase of “NO, and never ask again!” much sooner than another person. It takes practice to understand the reason you need persistence and how to apply it, and you won’t always get it right. So you need to ask yourself if you are willing to tick that person off in order to get the answer you want.

Pleasantly persistent works best with people who are genuinely busy and probably have forgotten your request or it falls low on their priority list. They don’t mean to say no to you, but unfortunately at that moment you don’t rank high enough on their priority list for them to take action. A simple reminder by phone, email, text, or via their secretary or a mutual contact usually works. Of course you might have to do each multiple times depending on the person and how much you need that contact or answer.

For example, I had met someone that I told I would do something for–make a few contacts for her here in Kentucky. I had every intention of doing it, and even took a few steps in the process. Then I got busy and just plain forgot. I didn’t mean to tell the person “NO!” with my actions, but my inaction was sending that message.

Fortunately she was pleasantly persistent, reaching out to me every few weeks just to touch base. I finally was at a point that I could assist her and fulfill what I had said I would do. I felt better for having done that, she was happy with the result, and the third party was happy that she was introduced to them.

If she had just given up and figured I was not interested in helping her after all, none of that would have happened.

In the case of a farm owner or manager, let's say you are trying to make arrangements to have a mare bred for your boarder. Unfortunately, the stallion you had discussed breeding to on the client's last visit to the farm will have a full book next year according to the stallion owner, and it might be hard to get semen shipped when you need it--or get it at all--if you don't get your request in early.

But try as you might, the client hasn't returned your phone calls or emails. Now what? The clock's ticking!

Don't give up! If you have been trying the person on their business line, call on their home or cell phone if you have one of those numbers. If you don't, do you know someone who does? Try sending a text. Keep it short and ask for a yes or no answer to make it easy. "We had discussed breeding Mariblue to Mr. Doc's Friendly Foe in 2014, and the stallion manager said we needed to book this month to be guaranteed semen. Do you want me to proceed with the booking?

What if you are a sport horse boarding farm and you have a client who hasn't paid the extra fees for the last show--trailering, training, braiding, hay and bedding. This is a good client who normally pays board on time and in full, but doesn't show very often. The board and show bills are sent separately because of your billing process. How do can you be "pleasantly persistent" with someone who hasn't paid a bill?

The same with any other. But with billing, your first question should be whether the bill was received. Always assume some communication error. Re-send the bill, and follow up with an email, phone call, text, or personal chat the next time the boarder is at the farm. Don't feel bad about handing the person a bill at the farm and asking for a check before they leave that day. You are running a business, and even though you all love horses and what you are doing, it's still business.

So, don’t neglect to be pleasantly persistent. It can pay off in the end.