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Memo to CEOs, Entrepreneurs: Praise Your Pushy Salespeople

I probably should come out of the closet. I’m a pushy sales person. Perhaps some will recommend a 12 step program or some other therapy to make me less pushy. But, to be honest, I like being pushy.

My customers and clients, for the most part, appreciate it too–though at some times my pushiness makes them uncomfortable. (I’ll come to that later.)

By now, some of you may be thoroughly confused. If you’ve read my blog for some time, this would seem out of character.  Many would say, “No one likes a pushy sales person.”

So it’s important to provide context around my pushiness.

What Is An Effective Pushy Sales Person?

My pushiness is never about “getting the order.”

LinkedIn: David Brock of Partners in Excellence

My pushiness is always focused on the customer/client and their ability to achieve their dreams, goals, and objectives. If a customer’s buying or problem solving journey stalls, I believe it’s incumbent on me to gently remind and prod them about why they started the journey in the first place. It’s important to help them understand how they might move forward and to help drive clarity to the choice they are making. I genuinely feel bad to see a customer not achieve their goals, particularly when I can help them do so.

Clients and customers appreciate, or at least understand the motivation, giving me permission to push them in helping them achieve their goals. They recognize and appreciate the intent, knowing it’s focused on their success.

At the same time, my pushiness is about achieving my own goals.

Now you are probably scratching your heads, thinking, “What the hell is he talking about?”

To some these may seem incompatible. How can one be driven by the customer’s attainment of their goals, yet be focused on one’s own goals? Aren’t those in conflict?

And I think that’s the important point–these can’t be in  conflict!

The only way I achieve my goals is through the customer achieving theirs!   have no business taking the time of customers/clients trying to help them on problems that I’m not the best in the world at solving.  I’m misleading them, I’m wasting their time and my time.

Being driven by helping the customer achieve their goals can never be in conflict with achieving our own goals. By definition, when what we sell doesn’t help the customer achieve their goals, then we aren’t being helpful.

By definition, we aren’t being helpful when the customer doesn’t want or need our help. Trying to be helpful then is wasting both our time.

Understand What to Chase

Too often, I think we fail because we chase the wrong opportunities–or we don’t have clarity about what the right opportunities are. We are chasing opportunities where we can’t help our customers achieve their goals or they simply don’t care–they may have other priorities.

Sometimes the concept of “pushiness” is discomforting to our customers. The word, itself, is charged, mostly because we see our experience is always of the most negative contexts of the word.

But the pushiness I am describing, like Productive Conflict, has nothing to do with what we perceive as the negative attributes of pushy behaviors–these have no place in selling or business. The foundation of the pushiness I am describing is really about caring.

It’s knowing that one can have an impact on the businesses and lives of customers, developing trusted relationships with those who value that help.

We can help them confront their own internal challenges and problems. We can help them think about what they are doing and to consider the value of changing–of doing things differently.

Effective pushiness is also about being open to differing perspectives and ideas. It’s about being collaborative in how we engage customers and help them engage each other in solving their problems and achieving their goals.

Effective pushiness is not necessarily about being “comfortable.” Change is never comfortable. But perhaps effective pushiness can provide context and meaning to the discomfort people may experience in implementing change.

Unfortunately, too many sales people don’t understand what effective pushiness is–they are just annoying!


David Brock is president of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a management consulting firm focused on sales productivity, channel development, strategic alliances and more. Read more blogs from Brock here.

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