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Common job issues and solutions in Sales

Are You a Pushy Salesperson?


{#/pub/images/AreYouAPushySalesperson.jpg}There’s a fine line between assertive and aggressive when you are a seller. Most sales people err on the side of caution because they want to avoid being thought of as the stereotypical, pushy seller. I suppose that’s why one of the most common questions I hear in sales coaching and training is “won’t I seem too pushy?”


While I appreciate the sentiment and understand how no one wants to be THAT salesperson, this has become an exaggerated fear. As such, it is severely self-limiting for any seller who operates in fear of being too pushy.


Indulge me for a moment in a metaphor. Imagine you are a kid on a playground. It’s recess, and everyone is crowded together on the blacktop soaking up the sunshine and fresh air between class periods. As you’re playing, you push another child. What caused you to push someone else? It’s one of three reasons:


  1. The other person wasn’t where you wanted them to be.

  2. The other person pushed you first.

  3. You got carried away and lost your self-control in this moment.


It’s no different in selling. These are the only situations in which you are likely to be pushy. Let’s spell it out in buyer/seller terms vs. kids-at-play terms:


1) The buyer isn’t where you want him or her to be. You’re ready, perhaps, to move to the close but the buyer is still trying to express needs. You push to try and move the buyer to a different place, the place where you want the buyer to be.


2) The buyer pushed you first. Maybe it was a push to hurry up and finish the pitch. Maybe it was a pushback on price or some other objection. Or maybe it was a push to fast forward and close. You push forward because you feel pushed.


3) Adrenaline-fueled and swept up in the chase, you momentarily lost your self-control and pushed for the sale. Your actions didn’t match your intentions. Afterwards, you regretted the way you responded.


To keep yourself from pushing, you just have to understand the playground rules. You have to know your own triggers and find ways to cope with the feelings that precede pushing. You have to consider the consequences and weigh them against the benefits. 


When you push on the playground, you lose privileges and access and maybe even friendships. When you push in sales, it’s the same. You may lose access to and engagement with a customer. So that’s why you learn and discipline yourself not to push.


Don’t let your fear of being pushy compromise your effectiveness.


Let’s return now to the original problem. The fear of being pushy causes many good sellers to hold back and compromise their own effectiveness. They over-compensate, as if the pushing done by other sellers somehow gets them labeled, too, as aggressors.


Over-compensating has just as many consequences as occasionally pushing does. Again, think about the playground example. The only way to never push, even accidentally, is to hang out on the edges of the asphalt, away from the action. You’re observing more than participating. Instead of jumping right into the game, you’re waiting for an invitation (one that may never come because there are plenty of other children already in the game). 


When you worry too much about being pushy, you rob your customers of what you have to offer. You won’t make suggestions. You won’t show them alternatives or challenge them to try new things. You won’t ask questions that reveal underlying issues or surface latent needs. From the sidelines, as a spectator, you have nothing of value to contribute.


So you’ve got to get into the game and know that may include the risk of accidentally pushing someone. Be okay with that risk and then work to balance it.


How do you balance the risk and minimize the chance of being pushy even when you’re in the thick of things? Well, take another look at what causes one kid to push another. Each of the three reasons stems from misalignment. People weren’t in synch with each other, happy with each other or emotionally okay with each other in the moment when the push occurred. 


What this means to you as a seller is that you need to stay aligned with your buyer to avoid being pushy. You will have absolutely no desire to push someone if you are okay with where they are. Rather than trying to push a buyer through your sales process, walk with them in the lead through their own buying process instead. It’s hard to push someone when you are walking side-by-side, hand-in-hand, in alignment. 


You will not experience emotional triggers when you are aligned with your buyer. Neither will the buyer. Because you are focused on where the buyer is and paying attention to creating value for them to step into the next phase of their own buying process, you are clearing the way for them. No need to push when the way is clear! The buyer will make smooth passage through their own process when you have gotten you and your own agenda out of the way.


Any time you wonder if you are going to be too pushy, try this. Consider beckoning someone toward you instead of pushing them away from you. Your intent to draw them closer will guide your actions in selling and prevent you from being a pushy seller.    



{#/pub/images/DebCalvertNew.jpg}Written by Deb Calvert, President, People First Productivity Solutions-Author of the DISCOVER Questions book series, Deb has worked as a sales productivity specialist and sales researcher since 2000. She is certified as a Master Sales Coach, Master Trainer, and host of CONNECT! an online radio show for selling professionals where listeners ignite their selling power in just an hour. Deb helps companies to boost productivity through people development. This work includes leadership program design and facilitation, strategic planning with executive teams, team effectiveness work, and performance management program design. 


Do you have a sales question for Deb?  Please visit our Sales Community, she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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