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From Pushy to Helpful: Transforming Resistance into Opportunity

Are you being salesy or pushy?  –OR- is worry about being salesy or pushy stopping you from being as effective as possible?

I gave some advice to a business owner to ask more questions when she faces price objections rather than accepting the objections on face value.  She acknowledged I was right but admitted it made her feel a little squeamish to push back because it sounded too salesy to her and felt uncomfortably pushy.

First and foremost, be authentically you.  If it feels too pushy and you can’t get yourself comfortable, don’t do it.  Because if you feel pushy, you will be putting all sorts of weird vibes into the sales conversation, and then everyone will be uncomfortable.  That isn’t a recipe for closing deals.

But don’t let yourself off the hook just because something feels pushy at first blush.  Examine your own thought process.  Why do you think it’s pushy?  Anytime I hear “pushy” or “salesy” as reasons sellers are uncomfortable with an effective tactic, I believe that a misguided idea of “what sales is” is behind that.

Consider this:  sales is helping.  Sales is helping people get what they want.  Sales is giving customers the information they need to make a prudent choice.  It’s not about manipulation or talking someone into something they don’t want or need.  (If you are doing that, you’re doing sales.)

If you authentically seek to help your customers get what they need, it isn’t pushy to make sure they get all the facts and consider all the angles.  If you give up too early in the process at the first sign of resistance, you walk away from a customer who could genuinely benefit from your products and services.  That isn’t what help looks like.  That isn’t what good customer service looks like.

In my business, when a prospect gives me some reason they can’t engage our services, I always ask more questions, not to be pushy, but in an authentic bid to help them get what they want.  They want higher margins, and we help them get it.  The way I see it, if they don’t buy from us, it’s a lot harder for them to get what they want.  I’m committed to giving customers what they truly want.  Keeping that commitment paramount in my mind resolves any discomfort that may arise from pushing back.

Here’s an example:  A recent prospect told me they were interested in our program, but they were rolling out a new CRM and it wasn’t a good time to tackle a training program.  The most common approach I see and hear all the time from sales teams in this situation is to say, “ok, how about I check back in three months when the rollout is done?”  Instead, I asked, “Imagine if the CRM rollout were successfully completed right this moment; would you be a firm yes on this training program?”

The answer to this question can provide several key insights:  clarify genuine interest, understand priorities, identify other obstacles, and refine timelines.

Here’s another way to ask this same question, this time with a precursor letting the prospect know you are fine with a “no.”  This can feel more comfortable to sellers worried about being pushy.  (Paradoxically, opening the door to a “no” can be a fast way to a “yes.”)  Here goes:

“Is the CRM rollout the only reason you aren’t a firm yes right this minute?  And before you answer, I’d like to give you full permission to be 1,000% honest with me. Look, you might think it would hurt my feelings if you said no, but if the truth is no, this isn’t a fit, I would much rather hear “no” because it can save us both time. So, tell me if it’s a no, but if it’s a yes, then let’s get specific about how to feather this into your schedule immediately following the successful rollout of your new CRM… Let’s make a plan.”

This communicates not pressure but commitment to helping the customer who said they were interested.  Then, offer to be a resource in overcoming challenges.  Something like:

“It sounds like you see value in this. I would like to be a resource for you.  As you can imagine, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that timing and competing priorities are a challenge.  In the past we’ve helped clients overcome that through x, y, and z. Is that anything that would help you?”

You can generalize my example to your business and the kinds of objections you hear.  Put it in your own words and practice until you feel natural and the fear of being pushy dissipates.  The key is to recognize that initial resistance is an opportunity to engage in a genuine, curiosity-driven conversation that helps customers clarify their needs and find the right solution, instead of accepting the objection at face value.

Could your sales team use help with objection handling tactics like this?  Reach out.