Is your sales aggressive or simply assertive?
In psychology, experts term this the "percolator effect". Often with passive-aggressive ways how emotions work, at slightest notion that a long-ongoing deal goes sideways, clients show displaced aggression. Sales have a lot of work dealing with unresolved emotions, and that's why writing a mail or talking over a call sucks. And, that's a good reason why a face to face meeting often is recommended for sales.
It's common to find sales representatives doing a "push-over", taking due advantage of one's acceptance and holding things on a gun-point. A push-over is a subtle way of how greasy talkers barely try to pull their "own" weights, in a way that more work lands on friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
When you work towards closures, it sometimes is necessary to confront a lot of backfires and as your conversation could land your deal any direction. Finding a space in relationships between passivity and aggressiveness can be a big challenge as a seller. There are many examples of why deals tend to go sideways, on the simplest being how people don't respect one's boundaries.
If you are getting jerked around by a bad service/product, chances you landed up there without defining your needs and boundaries in the first place. Customers alienate a lot in for this very reason, and they "double bind" without expressing their future needs if they are challenged with not covering one's needs. The client backfires are the big headache for every sales representatives, and potential of pissing off prospects is more when you start letting go their important questions. The common perception of fulfilling one's self-interest isn't entrepreneurial. Sales representatives on the client-side facing need a constant product understanding, and when in doubt must come back with the right answers!
Talking about mitigating conflicts, it's wise to respect clients boundaries often that start with specificity – "I feel..", "I want..", "I need..","I think..". Clients often vent in various ways and one reason why communication and assertiveness should begin with a meaningful dialogue. Be open, honest, direct, and equal on what you seek! Anger is perhaps most difficult emotions for someone to express. Any assertive statement is respectful if both the parties are in a position to listen and words can be paraphrased into an open-ended question with no strings attached. Acknowledgment is the best next way to move forward.
The challenge here is for every sales person to be assertive. When you feel talking less, or talking more is critically dangerous for your funnels, it's wise to stop progressing deal-flow. Give your clients a breather, and let them call back! (Which mostly never happens unless your ask is reasonable). Iterate if your "ask" is reasonable? A lot of customers who don't communicate back assertively is when the sales quotes seem unreasonable or their answers don't seem duly valid. If your ask is ridiculous, you can't get sales. Recognizing this "unfairness" is a big stake in being assertive!
Have Empathy. If you sell without a soul, its a hard sell. Before you even plan to make your first call ask yourselves – Do you put yourselves in other's perspective? If you can communicate other people's needs, there is subtle leverage in getting a better understanding of what they also want. An average daily bread-winner is cost-conscious. Design Thinking is one such way to help grab the persona and do relevant marketing! When your perception of your potential prospect is recognized, you create a win-win scenario on how reasonable is your "ask".
Usually, clients have overtly rigid boundaries over just a few things. If you find your clients are unreasonable on their expectations, provide options. Show your consistency always on what your venture is built upon – don't backfire on your common denominator – your pricing model, how you packaged your subscriptions. If a client is expecting you to reduce your prices, asking for a bulk discount, wants to pay very less for a big ticket sale, don't end up saying NO. Keep calm, placid but learn to be quietly not taken advantage of, but give them an offer so tempting that they won't refuse to break or back-fire. Keeping your cool is very critical – As a closer, don't rush things to the last minute, escalate issues or get emotionally attached and show desperation.
We can spot a lot of recurring genres during "closures" in varying intensities of pressure as sales personnel get desperate with time over targets. It's wise not to make your hard demands and keep your cool at all times. If a client goes ahead to quote "We have a policy.. " respect their boundary. Being assertive in sales goes both ways. Often clients call up for a 1:1 meeting half-way around the globe or schedule a conference at 2 AM without any due diligence. But, if you are assertive enough to define your space, you can find a time that fits you both very well, or avoid a 24-hour long trip. Assertiveness is a mutual thing.
And, lastly, there is a big difference between a comment versus a request. If you wish to be assertive with no specific "ask", refine your sales pitch. A few experts suggest "broken-record" assertiveness – It puts a way to ask for and receive what you want by repeating what you ask for, but this takes a lot of patience to deal with clients who already said NO! The key to win-win closures is finding a space between what you want versus what others want.
Sales is not a 100% smooth ride. Everyone is likely to be constantly reminded its a sales meeting and money's at stake. If you bomb a lead with the default ice-breakers like "What's your budget" every prospect is likely to find it invasive, and most politely would refuse to share that information over comfort. If you cross that thin line, you simply accept refusal as an answer and move on. Asking more questions will not help, but buyers don't like to share anything before you have a few more sales touch-points. Respect their boundaries as the damage is rarely done as a result of any questions posed.
Assertiveness in sales goes even beyond selling. Follow up with customers and make sure they have a great experience because that is what brings people back! Over-assertive salespeople think they are experts, but they tend to be butt in every single opportunity. Limit your aggressiveness when you are in client-facing! As a sales closer, one should learn there is a higher chance of annoying the prospect if you continue to butter them up. It is good to stop pussyfooting and sell from a place of mutual strength.
Buyers turn aggressive when sellers relentlessly try to sell them without judgment while ignoring or attacking their opinions. When you pair an assertive request with an amazing price point, chances customer saying a YES is higher. One can't build relationships too long in sales. Life often has some detours when you're not assertive enough to accept change. Stand up for yourself.