Sales is a balancing act.
We’re constantly pushing prospects further along in the sales process while trying not to be overly aggressive. If your touch is too light, the prospect has no sense of urgency and you’ll never get the deal. But if you come on too strong, the prospect might feel overwhelmed and turn down an otherwise solid proposal.
Finding the perfect balance can be tricky, especially when each person you’re selling to has unique personalities, timelines, and situations. Thankfully, there are some basic principles to help you navigate that fine line between timidity and pushiness, and allow you to motivate your prospects without coming off as needy or intrusive. Here are five:
1. Set expectations throughout the process
If you prep your prospect on what to expect, they’re unlikely to be turned off when you follow through. When you’re starting the sales process, outline exactly what you plan to do, starting with your sales presentation and then every milestone thereafter. Explain to your prospect that as you move forward through the process, there will be opportunities for them to express their level of interest in continuing to go forward. If the expectations are clear and communicated throughout, it’s unlikely you’ll be seen as pushy or overly aggressive.
2. Schedule each next step
During the natural flow of a conversation, it can sometimes feel awkward to bring up your next meeting before the call is over. But if you make a habit of doing it every time, you’ll become more organized and you won’t need to inundate your prospect with phone calls or emails to get the next appointment. During your conversations, simply say something like, “Do you mind if we schedule our next meeting? What day works best for you?” Unless there’s no interest anyway, most prospects will be happy to put it on the calendar.
3. Invoke the problem and (any) negative consequences
Effective selling requires painting a picture of the upside of doing business with you. It also involves reminding prospects of the negative consequences of doing nothing. Believe it or not, those negative reminders can be a subtle – but effective – motivational instrument. If you’ve asked the right questions, you should understand why the prospect is considering buying (or switching to) your product. Use those reasons throughout your sales process to remind your prospect of their motivations in order to help them make a decision in a timely manner.
4. Offer incentives with expiration dates
A discount or a special offer is a highly effective motivator. If it wasn’t, then every retailer on earth wouldn’t be using sales and limited time offers to drive customers through the door. As a seller, you should use incentives intelligently, positioning them in a way that builds urgency and gets commitment from a prospect, rather than just throwing them out “willy-nilly.” If a prospect is on the fence, or wants to check back in at a later date, present an offer that expires before that date. Give them an incentive to act now, and remind them of what they stand to lose if they fail to do so. Done correctly, this will inspire action by your prospect without requiring pressure from you.
5. Build a real relationship
We tend to think of sales as the facilitation of business transactions. Strictly speaking, that’s what it is. But in the real world, business transactions between people are more complex, because people themselves are. We are social creatures, and we all have unique and sometimes unpredictable motivations. One person might not care whether they like the person they’re buying from, but many others will, and would be willing to pay a higher price if it means they can give their business to someone they appreciate. Never forget this when you’re selling, and don’t get so caught up in the facts and figures that you forget that building a relationship is where it all starts. If you can do that effectively, then you won’t have to worry about being too pushy at all.