When you're moving a sale forward, it's a mistake to be either too passive or too aggressive. Instead, be assertive, which is a completely different thing altogether.
This is an important distinction.
For example, let's suppose you've had a conversation with a prospective customer and want to know when they'll make a decision whether or not to buy.
Here's the passive approach:
The passive approach does not move the sale forward but instead creates a next step that's irrelevant to the decision-making. Sellers take the passive approach out of fear of losing the sale, fear of offending, and fear of, well–pretty much fear of selling.
Now check out the aggressive approach:
The aggressive approach (aka the "hard sell") often antagonizes customers. Even if the customer makes a decision, he or she may resent being pressured–and often as not will find a way to get out of the deal, or delay it until the pressure is off.
This, by contrast, is the assertive approach:
The assertive approach is neither pushy nor flaccid, but instead creates a discussion that helps you and the customer better understand what's going on, and what you can do to help the decision-making process along.
According to Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, the challenge in sales situation is to gauge the correct level of assertiveness that's most likely to move the sale forward, without slipping into an aggressive stance that might cause the prospect to balk.
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