Low angle view of two business executives shaking handsA big fear that many who enter the sales field have is that they may be perceived as “pushy” when seeking sales. It’s important, of course, to ask for the sale, but at the same time you don’t want customers to come away feeling uncomfortable about their encounter with you. So how do you find a balance? How can you be persuasive and get sales without crossing a line and becoming pushy? Here are some tips:

  • Focus on what they need, not what you want. This is the single most important thing that every salesperson must take to heart in order to be effective. If you are driven by quotas and your own bottom line, you will not be successful. The most effective salesperson takes the time to build a relationship with each and every prospect, discovering the challenges that he or she faces, and then crafting solutions with products or services that meet those needs. You may not sell as much at first as you would being pushy (at least not the first time), but what you will do is build customer loyalty that results in many more sales over the long term.
  • Make your solution realistic, applicable and concrete. In order to truly present a solution that is valuable to the prospect, you must understand WHY they need what you have to offer. If you sell to other businesses, take some time to learn about their business. If you sell to individuals, take the time to interview people who are in the target market of your product line and learn about their day to day needs. Invest time in truly understanding where your prospects are coming from and what problems they face. Then the solutions that you offer will come from a place of understanding, rather than sounding like you’re making them up as you go along based on what you want to sell. The best solutions are realistic because you understand the need, apply to the problem at hand, and truly offer concrete help to the problem at hand.
  • Tell stories. When presenting a solution, one of the best things you can do is tell stories that the prospect can relate to that draws similarities to their situation. Talk about another person who had a similar situation (this is one of the place your research pays off!) and how your product or service helped resolve that situation. The phrase “facts tell, stories sell” is quite true, because it helps people to imagine how what you have to offer is applicable to their situation. Many people are visual learners, so create a picture for them that helps them to understand why what you have to offer is compelling, and meets their needs.
  • Listen more, speak less. Even if you feel that you understand the prospect’s situations perfectly because you’ve seen it a hundred times before, let them tell you anyway. People are more likely to feel comfortable with the solution you offer if they feel like they’ve been heard. So be sure you listen more than you speak when working with a prospect. And when you do speak, rephrase what they’ve said and ask them to confirm that you’ve stated it correctly. Everyone wants to be heard, and too often we don’t listen enough in our society. Give the gift of total attention and listening to your prospect, and they will walk away from the experience feeling positive about the interaction.
  • Accept “no.” If you’ve done your research, listened well, shared stories and offered good solutions that meet the customer’s needs and they say no, that’s OK. While you will, of course, ask questions to confirm that they aren’t missing relevant information related to your product, not every single person will buy. If the prospect begins to avoid eye contact with you or their body language indicates that they are trying to distance themselves from you, it’s time to stop. Thank them for their time, offer a card and a willingness to help in the future, and move on to the next prospect. You don’t have to close every single person every single time. There are plenty of other prospects who need what you have to offer, and rather then spending lots more time on someone who won’t buy, focus on finding people who will be interested.

Think about your last good and bad experience with a salesperson. What made those situations what they were? Chances are the good experience was with someone who knew their product line and could answer your questions competently. It was someone who could point you in the direction of a good value that would solve your problem. The bad experience was probably with someone who was ill-informed about the product line and was simply trying to sell you something. Remember, a service-oriented salesperson is one who is focused on solving problems and meeting needs. This type of salesperson is the one who creates the good experiences that people remember and tell their friends about.

How do you avoid being pushy when selling your products? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.