Selling Right: The Difference Between Persuasive Selling and Pushy Selling

Selling Right: The Difference Between Persuasive Selling and Pushy Selling

The sales head at an MNC approached us one day and said,

“My salespeople are driving all our potentials away! We’ve heard complaints that they are too pushy and aggressive. What can we do?”

Now, it’s odd for us to receive such complaints because the general concern revolves around complacent salespeople that do not push enough. However, these days, potential customers start building a wall the minute you come off as being “too salesy” or “too aggressive”. Our solution for him?

“Don’t tell them not to be aggressive! But, train them to be persuasive instead.”

Let’s look at the signs of a pushy salesperson before we move on to persuasion –


• Unnecessary contact
The question is how much is too much? The answer is it’s too much when you have nothing of value to add. Checking in to see that they’ve seen your email, asking when it would be a good time to call back and asking if they have any further enquiries is basic and normal. Calling them every day just to ask if they have decided or if they have an answer is excessive. Calling repeatedly after they’ve firmly told you no is – you guessed it – pushy.

• Asking the same questions over and over again
While there is nothing wrong with asking questions to clarify a point, it is not ideal to ask the same question (even if its paraphrased) over and over again. Not only will it cause your client to believe that you are trying to push a particular point, it will make you appear unprofessional for two reasons –

a) It gives the impression that you were not listening to your client
b) You will seem incapable

Both reasons are sure-fire ways to reduce your likelihood of closing the deal. Instead, ask different, open-ended questions that will give you more information without having to fish for it.

• Answering objections with “but…”
Do you remember how you would, as a child, answer your parents when they said that you couldn’t have that extra bar of chocolate? A lot of the time, your immediate response would have been, “BUT…” followed by angry wails. Now, as you think back to that time, how do you think you seemed? When you answer an objection with “but”, you –

a) Sound like you were not listening to your client
b) Seem incapable

Not only does it create an argumentative atmosphere, it can be seen as snobbish and unprofessional. You’re working hard to push your pitch and your sales through but (that’s how you should be using “but”) you would only be pushing them away.

• Starting the conversation about your product
As human beings, it’s natural to want to talk about yourself and a natural effect of that is that we want people to listen to us. As a result, both parties find themselves fighting for the spotlight. Although prospects aren’t as vocal about the fact that they want to be listened to, the signs are in the way they react to your pitch. Salespeople will want to get through their pitch fast in hopes of catching the attention of the prospect with at least one aspect of the pitch. However, prospects will tune out in less than 10 seconds, especially once they realise that you are only talking to them because you want to sell them something. Salespeople who don’t leave room for prospects to talk are, more often than not, seen as pushy.

With that, we move on to persuasion. 

The first step toward being persuasive is changing your own mindset. If your goal is to merely hit your sales targets, you will not be able to break through these targets and achieve more than you’re meant to. This is because you will only try as hard as you need to to reach a specific number. And when this happens, you are more likely to lose interest in further sales. The most under highlighted trait of a successful salesperson is his/her ability to sell because they really believe in the product or service that they are selling. In the same way that you are more likely to hard-sell a recommend for your favourite milk brand to your friends, you will put more effort and heart into selling when you have confidence that your product or service will help your customers. Once you’ve made this change in mindset, you’re ready to change your selling techniques from pushy to persuasive –


• Body language
Studies show that the way your body moves determines how much more successful you will be in your sales pitch. This is linked to how you show how confident, powerful and comfortable you are with the situation you are in. It translates in your voice even as you are making your cold calls. When you are slouched in your chair, hands dangling at our sides and head resting on the back of the chair, how does your voice sound? Comparatively, how does your voice sound when you’re actively walking around the office with your back straight? The same change is noticed even when you are sitting straight at your desk. Not only will understanding how your own body language improves your ability to pitch and improve your sales closure rates, it will ultimately allow you to understand the body language of your customers as well.

• The power of one’s own name
How likely are you to stay on a call you’ve received from an unknown number if they use your given name? Unknown callers who use their clients’ or prospects’ given name are more likely to keep their prospect on the line because there is a correlation between hearing your name on the other end of the line and a subconscious increase in responsiveness. Using their name will increase their awareness of you, who is on the other end of the line. In calling them by their name, you are creating the need for engagement, interaction and feedback. You will make your client or prospect feel special as if they were the very centre of your attention. They are more likely to remember you than the other salesperson who called them and only referred to them as “ma’am” or “sir”.

• Social Proof
With the internet, consumers are plagued by the variety of choices they are presented daily. What makes you stand out from the rest? The biggest factor would be the social proof you and your brand have accumulated. This means referrals, testimonials, reviews and the like that consumers can readily find. Social proof has gained more traction in recent years with the bandwagon effect (where people follow others) as consumers start to digest more and more information. To fully utilise the social proof that you have accumulated, show consumers logos and name drop where possible – let them know that you have big clients that have supported you. If you or your product or service is relatively new, gather all the testimonials you can, this is where quantity will work just as well as quality.

• Comparisons
Construct your sales pitch so that it is relatable. Easier said than done? It isn’t that difficult. Think of it as keeping away from “costing” by allowing the prospect to visualise the improvements they can expect. When you listen to your client and they outline their pain points, answer them with a simple story to show that you’ve understood their pain point and have applied it in a way that expertly shows that you understand. It can be as simple as:

Pain point – “My team refuses to embrace change.”

Comparison – “It can be difficult. Just as a caterpillar has to come out of its cocoon, we too must come out of our comfort zones. Some may only change after 5 days while some may take 21 days – everyone is different but as long as they understand why they need to change, they will come around to it.”

By doing this, you are painting them a picture (which they will find memorable in itself!) and you are avoiding that push of as a “No, but this is why we can help,” or “This is why you need us,”.

• Forecast
If you can provide your client or prospect a taste of the possibilities, changes and results they would see by engaging you or your product, you have one foot through the door of success already. As difficult as it would be to provide an exact and accurate forecast, by employing case studies and reviews from previous engagements, you will be able to back up your forecast in a more reliable way. There is no need to push other peoples results down your clients’ throat but introducing it as a result that they too can expect will get them to lower their guard. Don’t, however, blow things out of proportion just to “convince them” they need you – you don’t want to look foolish by straying off course. Make sure you remember all the facts and qualifications you need to back up your claims. 

As easy as it is for us to list these tips down, it isn’t so easy to keep them in mind. The only way to do so is to keep practising and remember to “persuade” not “push”.

Recognise some of the signs of pushiness in your sales pitches? Train in the art of persuasion with us and pushing through deals instead of pushing away your potentials.

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