Most people are put off by the word “no.” Not me. When I hear “no,” I hear “negotiation.” So I just keep talking, with the assumption that they’ll eventually say “yes.”
It doesn’t even occur to me that “no” is what they mean. I just figure they haven’t realized that they want whatever I’m selling. So I start my pitch. It doesn’t matter what I want from them: an interview, a meeting, a project, quotes or images for my next book. If they still don’t want to help me, I tell them, “I’ll stay in touch.”
And I do. Every few months or so, I’ll call back. Or e-mail. Or text message, I’ve found there’s a fine line between being persistent and annoying. I never cross it. I call back leaving just enough time between calls that they need to be reminded about what I want. When I hear, “Oh, yeah, I remember you,” I detail what they’ll get of out working with me. I explain their benefits. Think about it. It has to make sense to them. Why would they take time out of their day to help me unless there’s something in it for them? If they don’t have the time now, I ask, “When should I get back to you?” They normally hem and haw. So I say, “No worries. I’ll follow-up later.”
They guess they’re off the hook. They are. But, just for now. A few months later, I’m back. I’m just rejection-proof. I don’t care how many times they say “no.” Tomorrow, they could say, “Yes!” Despite rejection, I persevere. I don’t let it bother me. I’m Teflon-coated. I let it go because I know I haven’t lost. They have, but they don’t realize it.
I actually stayed in touch with a talented art director, whose work I wanted to showcase in my second book. Twenty-two months later, he asked me why I kept calling him when he didn’t help me. I said, “Because I wanted to feature great examples in my book and that international campaign was brilliant.” That was the truth. I really wanted to showcase this particular campaign for a delivery company because it exemplified all the points in one particular chapter: creative uses of traditional media, free media coverage without any extra work, innovative placement of ad messages, and more. I wasn’t going to give up, but I was close.
Don’t quit until you get what you want
At this point, I really needed to submit my manuscript to the publisher and I couldn’t wait much longer. He asked me how long I stayed in touch and I told him almost two years. He said, “If I ever write a book, I want you on my team. You just don’t quit until you get what you want.” Then, the most amazing thing happened. He assigned a personal secretary to me who was told to give me whatever I wanted. So I went from zero images to more than 40. I suddenly had a smorgasbord of images and I could choose the ones I wanted. Plus, I had a specific person assigned to make sure 1) the caption and credit lines were corrected, 2) the quotes were proofed, and 3) the images were in the required format for the publisher.
Finally, I had everything I wanted just in time to submit my manuscript. With the quotes, images, caption and credit lines all approved.
I think the point is if you really want something, don’t quit until you get it. Of course, my batting average isn’t 100%. But, it’s pretty high. Why? Because I’m like the postage stamp: I stick to the task assigned until it reaches its final destination. I always think there’s another way to ask the question and get a different answer.
Most importantly, I don’t let the past dictate the future.