Let’s be honest, no one likes a pushy person. We appreciate a gentle nudge, the occasional reminder, but not the feeling of being forced into a situation. But people tend to be forgetful, and in sales, many buyers lack urgency. For salespeople though, who have looming quotas and commissions in limbo, making the sale is the top priority.
Which leads us to the million dollar question: If buyers don’t like to be chased, but the end of month is near, how can you ask for the sale without being pushy?
We’ve broken it down into three simple steps. Read on, or skip to the step that matters most to you:
On the flip side, you might be thinking, being persistent isn’t always bad. And you’re totally right–it’s not. Because there is a big difference between a “pushy” sales rep and a “persistent” one.
The former can be defined as someone who is excessively self-assertive, they apply pressure to the situation. A persistent rep, on the other hand, simply endures over a long period of time. There’s no forcing the situation, and that can make all the difference.
The Harvard Business Review actually found that buyers rate two-thirds of sales representatives as either average or poor performers. One of the main reasons they listed is that the salesperson was too pushy and couldn’t establish a personal connection.
So, if you want to close more sales, it’s important that you and your field service team ask for the sale without being pushy. It can be a fine line to walk, but it’s definitely achievable. So let’s dive into the steps that will get you there!
1. Ask for the sale, but first detach from the outcome.
Sales can be a high burnout profession. It’s high volume work where there’s typically more rejections than wins. And that can feel discouraging, especially when you know your company’s product and services are top notch.
But that’s where the mindset of the “pushy salesperson” is created. It’s rooted in the idea that everyone needs your services, and that every opportunity should close. And unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.
Of course, you should have full confidence in what you sell. But you also need the awareness that your products and services are not for everyone. That’s why it’s so important to know who your customers are, and to be mindful of who isn’t a good fit for your business.
It’s easier said than done, but if you want to sell more, it’s essential to be indifferent to the outcome. Your end goal should not be to ask for the sale every time. The goal should be to listen to your prospects, understand their needs, and determine if you can provide a solution to their problems.
And if you can’t, that’s okay! Part ways as friends and maintain a good relationship, because who knows, down the line they might have a new problem that can be fixed with your services, or they may even refer friends and family to your business.
On the other hand, if you know they’re not a good fit for your services, but you try to talk them into using your business, it’s most likely going to come across as pushy. And when people feel forced into a situation, they pull away.
So how can you detach from the outcome of a sale? Start by trying these methods recommended by sales trainer Josh Braun:
a. Switch from expectations to conversations
The first step is eliminating your expectations that every discussion you have with a lead will end in a sale. If that’s your only intention throughout the conversation, it will come across as pushy and ingenuine.
Josh recommends focusing solely on learning about their problem with no ulterior motives. When you’re genuinely curious, your prospects will feel more comfortable and open up more easily. There’s no longer the feeling of something being forced on them and that they need to put their guard up.
When you focus on problem solving instead of constantly selling, you’ll actually sell more while simultaneously selling your services to the right people. This means you can expect repeat business from them, and possibly even their referrals!
b. When you ask for the sale, separate personal rejection from product rejection
If you’re a field service sales representative, our bet is your day to day is focused on sales. And when you spend the majority of your week selling, it’s hard to separate yourself from the process.
But when you attach your self worth to the outcome of a deal, a rejection of your proposal or quote may feel like a rejection of you. And that just isn’t the case.
As Josh puts it, “Prospects don’t reject you as a person. They’re rejecting what you said. Those two things sound similar, but they are two completely different mindsets. Who you are as a person has nothing to do with a sale or a meeting.”
By not attaching your personal worth to the sale, you can detach from it. And when you detach, there’s no longer the need to push prospects into buying from you or using your services.
2. If you want to sell more, don’t go chasing ghosts (or uninterested leads).
In a study by HubSpot, it was found the #1 word associated with salespeople is “pushy.” Which is not an adjective most of us want to be affiliated with, especially by default because of our profession.
Yet, it takes multiple follow-ups–the average being five to eight–to even get in touch with a lead. So where exactly is the line between “pushy” and “persistent”?
According to the same study, 42% of salespeople say they struggle to establish urgency when selling. Basically, they find it difficult to get leads to buy now vs later. And as a result, 84% of potential buyers say they find salespeople to be “pushy” because of this.
That’s why it’s important to remember the sales process is not linear. Just because a lead is interested, doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. So if you want to ask for the sale without being pushy, it starts with aligning with your leads intentions and timelines. Not forcing your ideals on them.
Let’s break down what that really means.
a. If it’s not the time, don’t ask for the sale
Typically when people make big purchases–like investing in A/C for their home or installing a complex security system–they don’t want to buy in a two day period. They might not actually want to buy at all, and instead are just looking at what options are out there.
As salespeople, the objective is to listen to why they need those products and communicate the value they’ll bring. And while it is important to stress the benefits implementing your solution will have, the goal isn’t to pressure prospects into buying.
Take it from expert sales trainer Rudy Uribe Jr, who has helped field service businesses grow and perfect their selling processes for the past 10 years:
Ultimately, when you apply pressure, people get uncomfortable. It makes them want to pull away, and sometimes they become ghosts. Rather than tell you they really aren’t interested, or it’s just not the time for them to buy, they’d rather disappear than be the one to break the bad news to you.
To avoid this, establish your buyer’s timeline–don’t assume it. Try asking questions like:
“When are you trying to get this done by?”
“What makes this project a priority for you right now?”
“Is this something you need done right away, or can it wait?”
If their response shows urgency, it’s time to be persistent in asking for the sale.
On the other hand, if it just isn’t an immediate priority for them, don’t try to push them into buying. Understand their timeline and align with it. Lay out next steps you can take and agree when you should revisit the conversation.
And with that said…
b. Don’t follow up just to follow up, always add value
If a lead has gone cold (or worse, become a ghost) sending constant “checking in” emails and voicemails most likely won’t get you far. In most cases, it will come across as pushy instead of persistent.
Unfortunately, your prospect knows you’re not genuinely checking in on them, your real motive is to see if they’re ready to buy. And if they’re not, your message is just another one they’ll need to delete from their inbox.
Instead, follow up when you have real value to share with them. Maybe last time you spoke, they weren’t ready to buy because the price was too high. Now it’s been a few months, and your field service business is running a seasonal promotion that you want to share with them. That’s a valuable checking in message to send.
Of course, remember to switch from expectations to conversations. Just because the price has dropped, doesn’t mean you should expect the sale to close. The goal should be to restart the conversation and see if now is the right time for them.
c. Sometimes, it really is okay to let a lead go
It can be hard to let leads leave the pipeline, especially if it seemed like they were a great fit. But if they’re no longer responding, or have clearly said they’re not interested, pursuing them will only come across as pushy.
It also isn’t worth your time to chase leads that you know aren’t coming back anytime soon–especially when you have plenty of other opportunities on the table. Chris Voss, FBI hostage negotiator turned business trainer, recommends sending this one-sentence email:
“Have you deferred this project?”
If it’s a “yes” or no response, that’s okay. It simply means you can move forward with the next deal instead of trying to push one that just wasn’t meant to be.
3. Stop selling and start consulting if you want to ask for the sale without being pushy.
One of the biggest reasons you might be coming across as a pushy salesperson, is because you’re only focused on the sale. Top performing sales reps, however, aren’t salesy–they’re consultative.
Why? Because no one really likes feeling as if they’ve been sold something. It’s not fun for a potential buyer to want to learn more about your product and services, only to be forced through a drawn out sales process to get the answers they’re looking for.
Let’s take a look at this chart from HubSpot’s “Buyers Speak Out” study:
It’s clear there’s a disconnect between what sales reps and buyers want to talk about, and that just shouldn’t be the case.
Sales expert Jake Dunlap gives a great approach for reps to take instead: “If someone reaches out asking about your services, do not say ‘Great, let’s hop on a call to discuss.’ If someone is looking for more information, help them first and then ask them to connect. Don’t go for the hard pitch when someone has a basic question.”
For example, if a customer asks straightaway about the price of your services, don’t give them an evasive answer and instead pivot to your pitch. Not only does it seem shady, but it also reveals that you aren’t their ally in their buying process. It’s an immediate red flag that you want to sell them on something instead of offering the best solution for them.
Rather, in cases like this, explain your pricing to them first. And if they object and say it’s too much, view it as an opportunity to become consultative. Ask them questions like
“How much are you looking to spend on something like this?”
“You definitely have a lot of options out there, is price your only concern?”
Sometimes, you’ll find people don’t actually know their budget for a project. Or they may not have done the research to understand what the average cost of services like yours are. It’s a great opportunity to consult with them and to really discover where their objection is coming from.
Because when you’re a consultant and not a constant seller, sometimes you’ll even find the initial objection wasn’t even the real problem. They might be able to afford the price, they just aren’t confident your business is the right one for them to invest in. And that gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how awesome your services really are.
If you’re knowledgeable and offer real solutions to the problems they’re trying to solve, not only will it be easier to ask for the sale, but you’ll also close more deals. And even if they end up not being a good fit, remember that’s okay too. It’s more important to maintain a relationship than to push a prospect and burn a bridge.
The takeaway on how to ask for the sale.
It isn’t easy to ask for the sale without being pushy, especially when it is your job to sell your products and services. However, research has shown that if you pressure prospects into buying, they’ll only pull away. Which in turn, will result in less sales for you.
To avoid coming across as pushy, work on detaching from the outcome of the sales process. Remember, a rejection of your services isn’t a rejection of you–you didn’t fail, it just wasn’t the right fit. And the best (and most honest) way to determine who is a fit and who isn’t is to focus on having conversations with prospects. Stay genuinely curious about their problems rather than focusing on why your services are right for everyone.
At the same time, if it’s clear a lead isn’t interested, or the timing just isn’t right, don’t chase them. It will only come across as pushy, and most likely put a sour taste in their mouth.
And finally, the best way to ask for the sale without being pushy, is to focus less on selling and more on consulting. Don’t create a dynamic where it feels like you’re forcing them into a purchase. Instead, act as a resource for them. Because focusing on their needs and offering real solutions (even when those solutions aren’t your services), will actually help you sell more.
Want more expert tips on selling? Then be sure to download our free sales guide below–it has everything you need when it comes to communicating with leads like a pro!
Hi! I'm Ashley Tortorelli
When I'm not researching industry trends and writing about business strategies, I spend time with friends and family, travelling, and searching for the world's best chocolate chip cookie.