Pushy or Persistant: Is There a Difference When it Comes to Salespeople?


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Part of being a salesperson is having to stay on top of your prospects and active sales opportunities. This means that you need to make phone calls, send emails and even connect with them online to stay top of mind with the decision makers. Buyers are busy and they are getting hit from several different directs by the needs of their company as well as being contacted by other sales people.

I had a conversation with a few sales people about staying engaged with people and the discussion drove right into the topic of being pushy vs. persistent. I agree it’s a fine line and thought it would be best to ask our growing B2B sales community what they thought the difference was and if there really is ANY difference between being pushy or persistent when it comes to sales.

Bob MarshBob Marsh This is probably one of the key things that differentiates the decent salesperson from the great ones. I’ve found that when done right, clients want persistence because your helping them keep you top of mind. I can’t tell you the number of times I kept calling/emailing a client with no response, and then when we eventually connected they thanked me for staying on top of them.

A persistent salesperson truly believes they are adding value for the client so are HELPING the client by following up with ideas, reminders, etc.

Grant EpsteinGrant Epstein I think it largely comes down to how your contact strategy affects the prospect. If your follow up it not intrusive, it is persistance. If it is instrusive or too frequent, it is pushy.

Michael A BrownMichael A Brown Interesting timing for your question. Last week I had to send this to a guy who didn’t know the difference: “(Name), persistence is OK, but harassment is not. I responded to an earlier message with ‘not yet.’ That directive stands.” In my experience, the problem arises most often when overanxious sales people try to “leapfrog” their prospect’s consideration process. Seldom can peristence expedite that process. Attention and diligence CAN help keep the process going and bring it to a successful “yes.” But woe to the marketer or sales person who ignores the prospect’s preferences and timing!

Flyn PenoyerFlyn Penoyer Yes, one is a positive trait, the other a negative. Pushy simply indicates disrespect an and improper approach.Persistence is a necessary and respected trait in nearly everything including selling. If you are truly persistent in your selling, you will get complemented on that trait.The clue is you don’t need to be persistent to be pushy.

Dan NordquistDan Nordquist A good deal of sheer “pushiness” comes from unrealistic sales quotas and other managerial browbeating in “boiler-room” environments. ( Such boiler rooms can exist in environments that are quite professional looking. ) Nevertheless, most cold callers have run up against the prospect who keeps postponing making a decision, and is giving mixed signals about the process of exchanging benefit info / priorities etc. If you sense that you are possibly overstepping your bounds in terms of intrusiveness, in a situation like this, you can either back off and put it in the tickler file, or say something like “If I seem aggressive it’s because you’re important” and then follow up with a question relative to something the prospect said was crucial to him/her, which has been left unresolved. Its a judgement call, based on how often you have received conflicting information, their perceived mood that day, etc.

Linda BennettLinda Bennett Hello: Pushy is obvious and redundant; persistence just shows good business drive and concern. You could develop a script that would cast your persistence in a good light.

Marc ZazeelaMarc Zazeela Koka – Most Definitely. I think it is similar to the difference between aggressive and assertive. One is powerful, the other is annoying.

Barbara GiamancoBarbara Giamanco Absolutely! And as soon as I said it, I was thinking to myself and what is the difference. How do you spot it? What are the characteristics? If someone is following up with me on a regular basis – say every couple of weeks – because I expressed interest in their service, I’m ok with it. That to me is persistence. After all, you can’t close business if you don’t follow up consistently. Pushy for me is the salesperson who uses tactics to try and “close” me, or, as in the case of one vendor they were calling me 2 times a day. Seriously! I finally complained to the owner. Pushy feels like it is all about their agenda and not what is best for me.Not sure if I’ve defined it well enough, so look forward to what others have to say.

Jacco van der KooijJacco van der Kooij It sits with the client to distinguish between the two, but in general I see it as follows; Persistent is when you act in the best interest of your client and sell in a way that shows empathy to him/her (e.g. do proper research, talk in her lingo, address his problem) Pushy is when you sell primarily in the best interest of yourself/your company on a timeline that suits you (this is what I got to sell, this is the benefit, have you secured budget yet?) Great interview question btw. will add it to my interview list for client facing professionals.

Ramon GarciaRamon Garcia With your awesome pre-call planning you know that there’s a reason you think it’s a good fit. I feel as though if I don’t get a “NO” it’s still a “MAYBE”. So you can be persistent until they say “NO.” If its not a good fit you’re just being pushy.

Rini DasRini Das Perseverance is the characteristic you should look for. Nobody has lost a sales deal because the salesperson was persistent and/or pushy and persevered. If they did not buy its because they did not like value prop or perhaps usually was not a priority. If they bought it its not because of pushy and/or persistent. suggest focus on what makes the salesperson persevere. #justsaying.

Han Geskes CTCHan Geskes CTC I consider this a difficult issue- you have no direct contact which makes it difficult to determine how your prospect or client views your message and options. I would like to a lead with a personal call and limit my e-messages.

Barbara GiamancoBarbara Giamanco @Rini – I disagree slightly. Pushy can cause someone to lose a sale. Unless maybe they are the only one who sells that particular product or service, which would be rare. Pushy to the point of “pain in the backside” has caused me to say no to someone trying to sell me something. Persistent, I respect. Pushy (as in it is all about their agenda) is offensive.

MICHAEL F. CONTI - Contact Center / UC EnthusiastMICHAEL F. CONTI reposting original response: I have said often that some sales people do not know when they are winning or losing. This can cause frustration for buyers if a) sales people keep calling and email and it is unwanted or b) sales people keep calling and have no agenda or clean reason for calling. If you not gotten signs of interest or buying and you continue to try and make contact that is frustrating for both parties. If there is an opportunity, you have a good offering and interested buyers, following up persistently and respectfully is fine.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Koka Sexton
Koka Sexton, Social Selling Evangelist and Sr. Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, is one of the most recognized social selling experts in the technology industry. A career in helping companies use social media for lead generation, creating new opportunities, and engaging customers. READ MORE at the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog.


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