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Sales People, We Need To Be More Pushy!

by David Brock on August 17th, 2011

I can imagine any buyer encountering this post is going to groan.  The last thing customers need is a pushy sales person.  We know the type.  After the friendly, “Howdy,” or “Hello,” as soon as possible, the conversation shifts to “I want to sell you something,” or “I need a sale,” or “When am I getting the order?”

The last thing we need is a sales person trying to sell us something we don’t want or need.  We don’t want to waste our time with sales people who only care about the order or their commission checks.  That kind of pushiness is misdirected and totally inappropriate.

But, we do need to be much more pushy!  We need to help our customers–I think the solution is not backing off, working with the customer at their pace, but I think we need to be aggressive to the point of “appropriate” pushiness.

As sales people, our job is to help our customers achieve their goals.  Whether it’s to solve problems they have, help them address new opportunities, our role is to demonstrate how our solutions can help them to achieve their goals.

Time to solution, time to results, payback are all critical concepts–they should be very important to our customers. It’s our responsibility as sales people to help our customers accelerate their ability to get the results.  We can’t let our customers cheat themselves from a single dollar, euro, yuan, yen of additional revenue, cost savings, or profit.

But our customers struggle with buying.  They have trouble aligning themselves around a problem definition, they struggle in defining requirements, they search for alternatives—all while trying to hold down their day jobs.  They get diverted, the project slows.  Sometimes, they get consumed in the transaction–worried more about the price, focusing on what they are buying, not why they are buying.  They say, “Maybe later.”

Sometimes there’s a window of opportunity.  If they don’t make a decision on a key component, or program, they’ll miss a product launch, they’ll miss a key event.

A few months ago, I was pushing a prospect for a decisions, I was anxious to move ahead.  The customer misunderstood.  The key executive said, “Dave, we need to slow down.  We’re just not sure we should do this.”  I responded:  “I’m really worried about this.  I’m worried that every month we wait, you are missing a minimum of $20M in revenue.  I know revenue and growth is a top concern for everyone in the organization.  I just can’t stand to see you losing that much new revenue every month.”

All of a sudden things changed. The customer had gotten so involved in the task, they lost track of what they were trying to achieve. Realizing what was at stake, realizing that I wasn’t concerned about “the order,” but was focused on helping them achieve their results changed the conversation. Within 24 hours we decided to move forward.

That example may be a little dramatic, but as sales people we see this every day. Customers need to produce results. They need help, they sometimes lose their way. They need leadership. It’s our responsibility as sales people to help accelerate their attainment of their goals. We need to be appropriately aggressive and pushy.

A couple of days ago, I was coaching a client on a stalled opportunity.  Their customer was dragging their feet on a decision.  The customer had a critical product launch coming up.  My customer and their competition had a 3-4 month lead time in supplying their components of the product.  We were reaching the critical deadline for my client to meet their customer’s goals.  If the customer didn’t make a decision, their launch date would have been impacted.  Every month they deferred the launch meant lost opportunity in a highly competitive market.  Additionally, their customer had already bought “shelf space”  in the retailers for the product.  Missing the deadlines would have meant empty shelves and lost money.  I advised my client to get pushy with their customer–not for the order, but for the customer to realize their goals and to not waste what might have been millions of pesos.

We have to first earn the right to be pushy.  We have to focus on the customer’s problems and goals.  Our solutions need to produce distinctive business value.  The customer has to understand and buy into that business value.  Then our focus has to be on how we help our customer get that value, how we can accelerate it, how we can reduce the risk.  We can only be pushy when the customer knows our motivation is for their success–not our personal deadlines and goals.

Our impatience must be focused on helping them achieve their results, not on getting our order.  After all, our goals–both our customers’s success and getting the order are aligned.  If the customer achieves their goals, then we will achieve ours.

It’s important to be impatient with our customers.  It’s important to be pushy.  We want our customers to be successful.  We want them to start seeing the benefits to their business as soon as possible.  As long as our focus is on the customer and helping them get the results they need to achieve, pushiness is never wrong.

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  1. David,

    Once again you reinforce why i respect you. You have the courage to say, do and behave like others can’t or won’t. Good post my friend. Dan

  2. Thanks for seeing sales in a different way. I’m strengthened for more work.
    thank you.

  3. Ivano permalink

    Dave, you’re right (as always)! The success of the salesman is the consequence of the success of the customer.
    The boundary from pushing and forcing is very thin: we have to consider that an healthy push is a creation of a pull.

  4. Angel permalink

    Excellent perspective to keep in the forefront of your mind as a sales person. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Randall Tabor permalink

    Dave; I like the phrase you used that we Earn the “right to be pushy.” I worked with a customer with a similar situation to which you speak. During a follow up, I went over the reasons why he needed to buy and the value it returned to his company. I challenged him with the concept that I was in alignment with my offer and his business needs. I ask him if my concerns for his company were as important to him as they are to me. When I got all the right answers, I then told him that I figured I had earned the right to his business because I had the right stuff for the right reasons. While he was waiting for a particular issue to be resolved that tied into my solution, he told me then and there that I was getting the order – he just wanted all the ducks in a row. I had a signature 45 days later for a relatively large order.

    • Great story Randall! Thanks for adding it, it’s a great illustration. Congratulations on the order!

  6. Ashwani permalink

    Very well said, being as sales guy we need to help to customer in understanding the cut throat competition our solution will help than for their success

  7. Daniel permalink

    Thanks Dave, great post! “As sales people, our job is to help our customers achieve their goals.” This is the truth. If you don’t understand your customer’s business, and have a deep appreciation of how your solution helps them, then move on. You have to shift from being an interruption to a key tool to helping them meet/exceed their goals. We must never forget to sell them on the “dream” – the improved state once they have implemented our solution.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation Daniel. I like the concept of us becoming key to helping them meet or exceed their business goals—if you don’t mind, I’ll borrow it and write about it. Thanks for the great idea. Regards, Dave

  8. Paul permalink

    I was a bit surprised with the article, and agree with the spirit. The word pushy could be exchanged with sense of urgency. Pushy focuses on the sales person, urgency is the focus to improve the customer needs.

  9. Great article!

    Once you have earned the right to ask for the sale, its your duty
    To help push your customers over the goal-line!

    Jimmy Crimmins/author of Rockin’ Selling Secrets

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