Early in my career as a newspaper ad rep my new sales manager insisted on being introduced to some of our bigger clients. When first meeting our advertisers, Bill, a large, brash man, would stick his business card between his fingers and thrust out his hand to make a dramatic first impression. It was distracting and awkward, but Bill thought it was a great way to stand out, as if he needed it. I recall one client requesting that I never bring “Dollar Bill” back to his store. Bill was seen as being too pushy and overbearing. He projected an outsized persona. One of my selling partners noted, “Who he is speaks so loudly that you can’t hear what he’s saying.”
How to influence without being too pushy
Salespeople walk a thin line. In doing so, you want to exert enough pressure to move negotiations forward without appearing desperate. Also, you need to identify and influence all the decision-makers without stepping over those who may become offended. Andres Lares, of Shapiro Negotiations Institute, offers persuasion tactics that lead to effective interactions and more positive results without being too pushy. He cites a few strategies that resonate with today’s savvy and educated customer. The author acknowledges that prospective buyers want someone who’s knowledgeable about their business and empathetic to the buying process.
Find common ground
Trusted people can influence buyers. Lares suggests that to build trust, you must first establish rapport. Firstly, get to know the other party and get them to talk about their interests and what they care about. Secondly, strive to understand where they are in the buying process and what they are truly seeking. This is the discovery phase. Listening is key. Give them your full attention. Address each concern individually. It is important to take time and to not rush straight into your sales pitch. There will be time for business.
Use the nudge theory
The author suggests you use choice architecture which is also known as the “nudge theory.” Developed by behavioral scientists, it is a way of presenting choices that lead to your desired result. Grouping related food products in grocery aisles or the image of a housefly etched into the men’s restroom urinal to “improve the aim” are examples of nudge theory. Using choice architecture, you design your offer to set the expectations that you want. As a result, you will find that people will follow. In this way, psychology helps you achieve your desired result without being too pushy.
Accentuate the positives
Positivity is contagious. Construct your sales pitch using straightforward, common language without jargon or buzzwords. Use a warm, confident conversational tone much like you were talking to a friend. Use what you learned in discovery and intersperse relevant items into your discussion. Recall areas of agreement if necessary to stay on a positive path.
Adapt and achieve
Avoid using a script. Instead, invest the time necessary to tailor your approach, again, using your discovery analysis. Have questions ready to help you clarify gray zones and to solidify areas of promise. Exercise genuine curiosity around their responses. Be flexible and stay focused on your goal. If you are being too pushy or rigid, you run the chance of turning the buyer away.
The velvet hammer
In conclusion, I urge you to use these strategies in preparation for your next negotiation. Communicate urgency without imposing time limits. Offer discounts without arbitrary strings attached. In short, drawing attention to yourself to gain favor is no way to move product. Being too pushy and trying to impress a buyer with aggressive techniques can tarnish your reputation as a salesperson.
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