How to Be Persuasive Without Being Pushy

Persuasive Not Pushy


In sales, our goal is to guide buyers towards making decisions that genuinely benefit them. However, achieving this balance requires finesse to avoid coming across as pushy. Here’s a story that perfectly illustrates this challenge.

I recently went house hunting in Phoenix with my wife and mother-in-law. As we parked, my mother-in-law leaned forward and asked, “Okay, what’s our story?” This question struck me. Many customers rehearse stories before meeting a salesperson, fearing they’ll be pushed into something they’re not ready for. This mindset often stems from negative experiences with pushy salespeople.

In his bestselling book, To Sell Is Human, Daniel Pink surveyed over 9,000 people, asking them to describe salespeople in one word. The top response? Pushy. It’s a common sentiment, but there’s a way to be persuasive without falling into that category. Here are

Three Key Strategies To Be Persuasive

1. Adopt the Right Mindset

Our mindset in sales significantly impacts our approach and effectiveness. The right mindset is to view persuasion as helping someone make the best decision for themselves. It’s not about manipulating a sale; it’s about guiding customers towards choices that truly benefit them. Pushiness stems from a focus on the salesperson’s goals rather than the customer’s needs.

When we genuinely prioritize our customer’s best interests, our approach naturally becomes more persuasive and less aggressive. This mindset shift ensures that our actions align with the customer’s well-being, building trust and facilitating smoother transactions.

2. Be Collaborative, Not Controlling

Collaboration is essential in building rapport and trust with customers. Traditional sales training often emphasizes controlling the conversation, but this can create a hostage-like scenario where the customer feels trapped. Instead, encourage customers to express their opinions and concerns freely.

Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, emphasizes the importance of allowing people to say “no” in his book, Never Split the Difference. Granting this freedom leads to more productive and collaborative conversations. In sales, this means actively listening and validating the customer’s perspective, which fosters a more open and trusting relationship.

3. Focus on the Customer’s Mission, Not Your Commission

Nothing turns customers off more than a salesperson pushing irrelevant solutions. This behavior, driven by commission motives, erodes trust and deters potential buyers. To avoid this, focus on understanding the real problems your customers are facing.

For instance, when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, my doctor immediately scheduled surgery, knowing it was in my best interest. I appreciated his promptness because I trusted his diagnosis and knew he prioritized my health over any personal gain. Similarly, in sales, thorough understanding and addressing the customer’s needs fosters trust and credibility.

By genuinely seeking to solve the customer’s problems, you align your goals with theirs, creating a mutually beneficial relationship. This approach not only enhances your persuasiveness but also ensures long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Practical Applications in Sales

To implement these strategies effectively, here are some practical steps:

  • Listen Actively: Pay attention to what your customers are saying. This shows that you value their input and helps you understand their needs better.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage customers to share more about their preferences and concerns. This information is crucial for providing tailored solutions.
  • Be Transparent: Clearly communicate how your product or service addresses their specific needs. Transparency builds trust and reassures customers that you’re prioritizing their interests.
  • Follow Up Thoughtfully: After initial meetings or sales, follow up with additional information or resources that may help the customer, showing that you’re committed to their satisfaction beyond the sale.

Be Persuasive, Not Pushy

Being persuasive without being pushy is about striking the right balance between assertiveness and empathy. By adopting the right mindset, collaborating with your customers, and focusing on their mission, you can build stronger, more trusting relationships. This approach not only enhances your sales effectiveness but also ensures that you’re truly helping your customers make the best decisions for themselves.

Now, go out there and practice these strategies. Be curious about how you can positively influence your customers’ lives. And remember, effective persuasion is about guiding, not pushing.


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About the Author: Ryan Taft

As the former National Sales Training Manager for a Top 5 homebuilder and a licensed Realtor® in Arizona, Ryan Taft is consumed with a passion for helping others achieve breakthrough results in sales, business and life.