What’s the Sweet Spot Between Pushy and Mushy?


The Situation

Aaron is a sales rep for a janitorial service company. While his firm has had success cleaning government office buildings, he now wants more private sector business.

Armed with lots of marketing support, Aaron is talking with Marissa, who is in charge of her company’s three buildings:

Aaron: Well, Marissa, you’ve checked out our website. I hope you watched the video . . . and I’ve summarized our advantages.
Marissa: Ah, yes, Aaron. The FAQ on your website was very good, but I have to ask, why do you think I should choose your company?
Aaron: Well, hmm. If your specific questions have been answered, I just think you’ll be happier with us.
Marissa: Okay, but that’s a leap I would have to take. One of your competitors, CleanCo, has a better name in the business — higher customer ratings online.
Aaron: That depends on which website you look at. An industry rating puts us at number one for the last three years.
Marissa: Aaron, doesn’t that rating come from a publication that carries a lot of your advertising?
Aaron: Marissa, if you’re questioning the rating’s credibility . . . I don’t want to be one of those pushy sales guys who tries to wear you down by arguing.
Marissa: Well, it’s a big decision. I want it to be informed. I’ll let you know by Friday.

How Forceful to Be?

No doubt, Aaron didn’t do enough to deserve this sale. But what about his point? Isn’t he right to avoid a Q1 pushy, insistent approach that tries to strong-arm people? If he talks her into it, couldn’t she regret it at contract renewal time? What do you think?

Just an Order-Taker?

Like salespeople do from time to time, Aaron lapses into Q2 passive behavior in an attempt to avoid Q1 pushy or aggressive sales tactics. Aaron is so concerned that he not appear dominating or overbearing, he puts no persuasiveness into his presentation. In effect, he is telling her, “When (and if) you decide to buy, I’ll be here to take your order.” That’s not doing Marissa a favor — and it’s certainly not Q4 assertive sales conduct.


Be a Facilitator!

Marissa wants to have a good reason to choose Aaron’s building maintenance service. Like most customers, she wants to feel confident about her decision. Q4 selling is neither pushy nor reluctant — it’s facilitative. Aaron can help Marissa by confirming her needs, and then explaining how he will meet them.


By the way, don’t mistake Marissa’s close questioning as Q1 hostile or arrogant. She is asking to learn, not attack Aaron. That’s sound Q4 customer behavior; Aaron should engage it.


Give Them Personal Reasons to Choose You

Instead of being passive, Aaron needs to start by probing to find out Marissa’s needs. Then, Aaron can give a strong, informed Q4 response that demonstrates specific benefits to Marissa and gives her reasons to buy from him instead of competitors. That’s Q4 engagement!