We all know selling and confidence go hand in hand. To be effective you need to confidently engage in conversation, be unafraid to ask important questions, proactively prospect and not be discouraged by rejection.

Many salespeople come across as aggressive when they should really just be assertive. Believe me that there’s a big difference. Both are memorable tactics but only one is truly effective.

Aggressive encounters are memorable because they leave us with a negative impression. So, of course, we don’t want our sales pitch to be left this way. We want our prospects and clients excited and positive about what we have to offer.

Assertive sales encounters are another story, Assertive isn’t aggressive. It’s about posing the right questions and communicating the right information with confidence. Assertive behaviour is remembered because you impressed your prospect or client with your solution and met their needs or position.

Some salespeople simply haven’t been trained well and have developed an aggressive sales demeanour all on their own. This can largely be because of the pressure they face to make sales targets or because they have modeled their sales technique on the wrong person.

Aggressive sales tactics won’t win you sales, at least not in the long run. It will lead you to ruin the reputation of the organisation you represent. For each sale made by an aggressive salesperson, there will be 10 people who will reject the offer based on behaviour and will tell 10 more people about their experience.

The good news is if this sounds like you, your aggressive behaviour can be unlearned. Instead, learn to adopt the professional sales skill of assertiveness. Below are the clear differences between assertive and aggressive selling.

Assertive versus aggressive behaviour:

calm and positive vs irrational and condescending

– enthusiastic vs fake

– honest and genuine vs manipulative

– direct vs intimidating

– understanding vs uninterested

– concerned vs blasé

– respectful vs harassing

When you approach a sale, think of yourself as the client or prospect’s business partner. Offer valuable and useful solutions, advice and direction. Thinking this way about your prospect or client instead of simply ‘I have to win this sale’ will help you adjust your behaviour.

It takes skill and practice to help put someone at ease. Your job to win a sale is to make people comfortable. Give them opportunity to talk and then have your turn and confidently show how you can help them. Keep it simple and to the point. Show genuine interest by stating your intentions up front, ask questions and actively listen and you will develop an assertive sales technique that will stick with you throughout your sales career.

Sue Barrett
BY Sue Barrett ON 3 November 2011
Sue Barrett is one of the leading female voices commenting on sales today. An experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider and entrepreneur and founder of Barrett Consulting, which provides sales assessments, sales consulting, sales coaching and sales training programs.

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