This is part three in a five part series on “Five Problems with Sales and Marketing and How AI Can Solve Them.” Click to read Part 1 or Part 2.

Calvin Coolidge once said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb…Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

This sage wisdom comes in handy regardless of how it is applied. Relating it to business, for example, it tells us that even if you don’t close a sale on first contact, keep trying. This is why organizations should not only make sure their sales teams follow up with enough of their inbound prospects (as discussed in my previous post), they should also ensure that this follow up is persistent.

But what constitutes “persistent?” The “Rule of Seven” states that a prospect needs to hear your message at least seven times before she remembers you. Many studies bear out this point, illustrating that a large majority of sales (80% or more) are closed somewhere between the fifth and 12th contact. With only 12% of companies making more than three contacts with a lead, though, lost opportunities and wasted dollars continue to be a challenge.

Sales guru Grant Cardone, who is also a contributing writer for Entrepreneur magazine, recently pointed out that persistence is the key to successful companies. He said recently, “companies that nurture leads have 47% higher profit margins than companies that do not.”

So if conducting lead follow up in a more dogged manner closes more sales, why aren’t more companies more persistent?  Good question. If sales reps don’t have the time to respond to leads more than three times, there has to be a better way.

Much like cultivating a healthy garden, there is persistence that is overdone and persistence that nurtures. The key is to find the fine line between over-watering, over-tilling and applying just the right amount of care. If a way could be found to apply exactly the right amount of lead nurturing at exactly the right time, consistently and automatically, the chances of growing the perfect cherry, rose or peach would increase exponentially.

But a sales lead likely won’t be converted with only a couple of contacts. A busy sales staff, however, may not have the time to follow up with prospects over several days, weeks or months…or go back to cold prospects to rekindle their interests.

This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven lead engagement can have a significant impact. The virtual sales assistant software nurtures each inbound marketing lead for days or weeks or months through persistent but friendly two-way email dialogue. The key here is that advanced technology has moved beyond the simple “question/answer” that Siri and Watson provide. AI-based sales assistants engage leads in true two-way conversations by asking the right questions and interpreting the human responses based on keywords, sentiment and intent. This identifies leads that are ready to speak with sales, those that need more nurturing, and those that aren’t at all interested. It also adds a personal touch right at the start of the relationship between your lead and your company.

Organizations that have employed AI-based solutions – where a persistent but consistent virtual sales assistant engages in natural, two-way conversations with all inbound leads – are generating high engagement with leads, teeing up more opportunities for sales and freeing up salespeople to spend their time closing, not pursuing.

Done right, this persistence will boost your sales at-bats and drive more success for your organization.