Aggressive selling that’s not Pushy

2 requirements to win sales and influence customers with an aggressive approach

The best salespeople I know are very aggressive.  I didn’t say they were pushy, salesy, or annoying to their customers. Quite the opposite.  Their customers love them for their aggressive style. 

Often, when I am brought in to work with a sales team, the manager is looking for a way to inspire or motivate their sales team to get more aggressive when selling.  They want their team to “get out of the office more”, “be confident and call on more prospects”, and “check in with customers less and sell more”. 

Often, these sales managers are very capable of doing those activities but struggle to get their team to sell the same way.

The sales team hears this advice from their manager and mistakenly categorizes aggressive as being pushy.  They think about their farmer customers and how much they dislike pushy salespeople.  Some on the sales team may have grown up on a farm and their dad disliked most of the salespeople that called on him.  This reinforces the notion that being aggressive is a bad thing.

Requirement #1:  Gets consistent results:  What the salesperson misses is that high-performing salespeople are aggressive and persistent with a specific set of customers and prospects.  When they are confident in their technical skills, they know they can bring higher performance and income to specific customers.  This gives the salesperson the confidence to persist and be more aggressive.

These increased results make those specific customers more tolerant of that aggressive selling style.  If you push and get results, customers will allow you to push more.  However, if you are just running around rampantly being pushy, you will make some sales but will do long-term damage to your relationships.  Farmers will quickly figure out a way to avoid you.  Usually with price objections.

Requirement #2: Always in the customer’s best interest

The next requirement is extremely important and can only be determined by the customer.  They allow and welcome aggressive selling if they feel the salesperson is focused on their (the farmer’s) best interest.  If they get one small feeling that the salesperson is motivated to increase his commission or sell more of her products, the aggressive style is no longer welcomed.  Notice I said, if the farmer gets “one small feeling”.  It’s really up to them to make this determination.  That feeling comes from your interactions, your words, and your customer’s intuition.

Your auto mechanic is a great example of this situation.  Most of us drive a lot of miles.  We need a good mechanic to keep us on the road.  We need a set of tires and new brakes every couple of years.  We need tire rotations and oil changes every other month.  There are plenty of mechanics that will upsell you on new hoses, belts, or repairs that might not be needed.  How do we know the difference between a mechanic who has our best interest at heart versus one who is trying to make money by upselling?  Our intuition. 

And your customers are no different.  Once I have made the determination to trust a mechanic, I am much more tolerant of them telling me to replace a worn part that is about to cause me more trouble.  I trust them.  And your customers are making this same determination about you.

How do you know who to persist and be aggressive with and who not to?  Well, that’s the art of selling.  That’s the part where you learn how to read people for what they want and need along with what you can deliver.

Start with your absolute best customers.  The ones who let you into their inner management circle.  They consider you to be part of their informal board of directors.  You already have a high level of trust built with them. 

Now, you need to make a complete shift in your focus with this customer.  Forget about selling them anything.  Move from selling mode to coaching mode.  Coach them as if they were your brother or sister.  This means you are moving from product focus to improvement focus.  You begin focusing on this producer’s strengths and weaknesses in their operation.  You bring methods to expand their strengths and improve or mitigate their weaknesses.  In many cases, these methods can result in your customers using more or less of your products. 

Whatever methods of improvement you are bringing, they always focus on the customer’s best interest, in their opinion.  This allows you to be aggressive in your selling efforts. 

This style of selling is not for every customer.  That’s why it works.  It’s designed for your best customers and very specific prospects. 

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