Salespeople, especially when they’re starting out, and sometimes even well into their careers are in fear of dismissal, rejection, or causing offence. This arises out of a fundamental lack of confidence in their credentials, their product, or both. This shows in their demeanor, which only hurts their prospects as no one wants to be in business with someone who’s got a lackluster, feeble attitude.
This doesn’t mean they should go overboard with their confidence either as it can come across as arrogant or straight up aggressive.
The primary thing to keep in mind while entering into a sales strategy is the fact that the difference between appearing aggressive and assertive is that the former just wants to close the sale at any cost while the latter is all about empathetic listening of the customer needs and confidently stating the benefits of how the product can help them fulfil their needs.
The key differences
Before delving into the types of strategies which involves the use of the CRM software, let’s first grasp the difference in these attitudes through some examples.
The following are some of the lines an aggressive salesperson would use:
- “This is a limited time offer and you don’t commit right away, it’s off the table”
- “We’ve spent a lot of time on this pitch. If you don’t want to invest with us, please let us know so we can pitch to another business.
Granted these approaches might persuade the customer to make a decision quickly, but there’s also the risk of antagonizing them with all the pressure you’re placing on them.
Let’s look at what an assertive approach would look like:
- “Do let us know the timeline for when you’d be able to arrive at a decision”
- “What would be the factors that could delay your decision making and what can I do to alleviate those concerns”
Now these approaches are neither passive nor aggressive and allows for a dialogue between yourself and the client so you are part of their process which allows you to play the vital role to persuade them during their process.
These are some strategies that could help you in this regard:
Be mindful of your word choices
Think about all the different ways your words can be interpreted by your different clients and make sure you don’t allow for any room for them to misconstrue what you’re trying to say. It might help for you to write out your script beforehand and read it out so you can hear how it sounds. While developing the script, a useful thing to remember is to adopt a pleasant tone. An example of this would be in the way you phrase questions. Instead of blunt questions such as “Who is the procurement specialist handling the acquisition of this product?”, you can try wording it as “Actually, I believe it might be easier if I speak with the Procurement directly. Could you let me know whom I should reach out to?” This approach ensures that you offer a reason for your question; otherwise it might appear needlessly aggressive.
You can also use the free CRM tool to harness the client data present to anticipate the questions your client might ask during your pitch so you can prepare your responses instead of hastily cobbling together a response on the spot. Keep in mind that sometimes, as the pitch drags on, your desperation might lead to a more aggressive attitude if you don’t prepare for them ahead of time.
Develop empathetic listening skills
You might have heard often about how important listening to your customer is. But empathetic listening goes beyond that. It’s when you listen to your client’s needs and prove that you understand them by immediately responding with a thought or recommendation that echoes the sentiment of what the client just spoke of. This guarantees more respect and inclination on the client’s side to listen to your pitch.
This also involves accepting their response to your question even it might be unfavorable to you. Suppose the client responds to your question regarding their budget by implying that they are not comfortable discussing it at this stage, and you press them for an answer, it means you’re not really listening or respecting their feelings on the matter. If you accept it gracefully and move past it, you might have better luck getting a response from them later.
Leave your feelings at the door
The risk with adopting an assertive approach is sometimes it might end up rubbing one of the clients the wrong way which might cause them to become hostile. At this point, if you’re faced with an antagonistic client, you cannot let any of their comments cause you offence. At this point, your concern should be damage control by trying to defuse the situation to alleviate any misunderstanding and get back on good terms instead of escalating the situation by countering their aggressiveness with your own. The ability to keep a cool head during belligerent situations is an important skill for a salesperson to learn.
A tip would be to handle these situations with consideration and a degree of respect for the client. This would neutralize any combative attitudes and you’d be remembered positively by the others present for how well you handled the circumstances.
Instead of constantly worrying about appearing aggressive, use these strategies to strike that critical balance and remain an assertive and effective salesperson.