When Selling Isn't Selling: The Secret To Taking The Anxiety Out Of Sales

By George Scott

There are two categories of salespeople – professional and unprofessional.

There are two types of selling strategies – pull and push.

Professional salespeople use the pull approach; unprofessional salespeople use the push approach.

Inasmuch as the essence of selling is “Find or create a need, then fill it”, a professional salesperson, uses the pull strategy, which means first determining if the prospect has a need or desire to purchase the product or service the salesperson is selling. This approach was once called the “needs assessment” approach. 

An unprofessional salesperson could care less if the prospect has either a need or desire to purchase the product or service the salesperson is selling. When that happens, everyone’s time is being wasted.

Two key ingredients of the pull strategy are positive patience and professional persistence. Positive patience is needed when compelling situational dynamics call for immediate action by the other person with whom you are interacting, yet your good sense keeps you from doing so.

Scenario: A salesperson wants to sell a soft-sided pen with black ink.

The Push Strategy

 Example: “Hello, prospect. I would like you to buy this pen. When you buy this pen, I will win an award that will go on my office wall. Also, when you buy more than one pen, the cost per pen goes down. Oh, yeah, one more thing … by you buying this pen will help me put food on my table at home.” 

Observation: This approach is all about the salesperson. The apathy toward the potential buyer is unfortunate … and counterproductive. Chances are that this salesperson constantly complains about the lousy prospects and the poor quality and design of the pen. A change of attitude and approach are needed for this person to be considered an actual salesperson.

The Pull Strategy

– Example:  NOTE: the presumed answer to each of the following questions is “Yes”  or the logical response to make the realistic example work) 

1) “Hello, prospect. Would it be OK to ask you a few questions? 

2) “When you have a conversation like this, do you take notes? (Answer = yes) 

3) “When you take notes, do you use just your computer or do you use the old school way of using a pen or pencil and paper? Answer = “old school”) 

4) Do you use a pen or a pencil? (Answer = “pen”)

5) Do you prefer a thinner or thicker pen? (Answer = “Doesn’t matter”)

6) Do you prefer a smooth sided pen or soft sided pen? (Answer = “Either is fine”)

7) Do you prefer blue ink or black ink? (Answer = “Black”)

Observation: This approach is all about the prospect. In the push approach, the salesperson didn’t take the time to learn if the prospect had a need or desire to purchase a pen. By taking a couple minutes upfront and asking the questions, much energy and time is saved. Additionally, the prospect is more likely to become a buyer who will respect the salesperson for asking the qualifying questions.

1) Will others in your organization need a similar pen? 

2) What is the price range you are willing to pay for a new pen?

A wise person once told me: “Since we have two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak.” That approach definitely fits within the pull sales strategy.

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