When Soft Selling Fails, Consider Using These 5 Aggressive Sales Strategies

When Soft Selling Fails, Consider Using These 5 Aggressive Sales Strategies

When Soft Selling Fails, Consider Using These 5 Aggressive Sales Strategies Image by Ed Uthman via Flickr

Many folks recoil in horror at the notion of an aggressive salesperson as pushy techniques simply become amusing conversation fodder to their victims for years to come. But not all aggressive approaches are to blame for the sales stigma, so here are 5 aggressive sales strategies that actually work.

1. Think like a marketer

Because many sales roles rely on high volume activity, think of this as an opportunity to learn from your marketing brethren and use the opportunity to A/B test different catchy subject lines. The content of your email will ultimately matter most, but it is all for naught if your prospect never sees it.

Techniques like direct response copy (writing that motivates action), posing a question, something time sensitive, or a flattering subject line are all good ways to ensure that curiosity is piqued and your note gets clicked. HubSpot even compiled a list of their favorite subjects lines, citing tidbits like using a subject line with “Re:” results in 92% of emails being opened.

2. Level with the gatekeeper

An executive assistant’s job includes screening incoming calls to ensure only the most relevant inquiries get through. If a gatekeeper routinely says, “Ms. Anderson is currently in a meeting,” you are likely being given the runaround so ask for specific availability. If this yields another evasive response you can artfully call out the elusive behavior.

“My hunch is you wouldn’t put me through even if I called back when she was free” will likely put them on their heels, allowing you to knock down some of the professional barriers and just be straight with them. “Apologies for the persistence but I can’t give up that easily when [prospect’s business] has so much in common with some of my most successful [clients / partners / customers].”

This is a chance to earn credibility so be crystal clear about these similarities and request the bare minimum time (5-15 minutes) needed with a decision maker to create interest or convey value. The gatekeeper’s job is to stop sales reps in their tracks, so they need to trust that you will not make them look bad for having done so.

3. Create artificial urgency

Many sales reps create urgency to motivate a purchase sooner, but tying the timeline to business goals like revenue or competitive advantage can take months or years to play out after implementation and ROI can be proven.

The fear of loss is a far more powerful motivator than the opportunity to gain, so creating artificial urgency around short-term factors puts the ball back in your court. Scarcity of a tangible product or a limited timeframe for a configuration of features and cost helps light a fire if there is an (real or perceived) understanding that this offer will be short-lived.

Everyone knows the “I’ll ask my manager” car salesman schtick, so tie timelines to concrete factors beyond your control rather than a higher power gambit. Monthly, quarterly or annual promotions, each more powerful than the last, are ticking clocks that will not feel like a subjective decision made by a third party.

If a prospect demonstrates conceptual buy-in but wavers on cost, try throwing out a great discount tied to an unrealistically short timeframe. If you know vendor approval takes three weeks, mention a sweetheart deal contingent with a purchase prior to that, tied to one of the fixed timeframes above. If they can make it work then great, but if, more likely, they need more time make it known that identical terms will not be available later. It is imperative that the sales rep stick to their guns and not offer the same concessions the second time around and risk conveying that it is okay to delay decisions indefinitely without consequence.

4. Going negative

Eventually we all encounter prospects who are unconvinced that your solution is right for them. If you are confident in the knowledge of their situation that there is no viable alternative, try agreeing with them.

“Based on our discussion, I’d have to agree that you don’t have the time / resources required to invest to see the results we outlined earlier so it’s probably best if we put this on the back burner.” If you have done a proper job exploring the consequences of inaction earlier in the sales process, they should start thinking about what happens if they do not move forward.

If you are correct in assessing their need, the tables will turn and they will begin to explain why they are a good fit, why they do have the time, or the need to take action. When executed correctly, a prospect will attempt to talk their way back into your good graces and regain access to a deal you had taken off the table.

This can be especially important in reputation-based or ongoing services where the post-sale relationship is vital. If you go negative and the customer was indeed not ready or a good fit then you have saved yourselves considerable headaches, and if they are ready then that will be revealed in short order.

5. Follow them around the web

Sales folks tend to view marketing automation as a responsibility for another team, but it can be powerful for reps as well. Remarketing and retargeting efforts to “follow” recent site visitors around the web with advertisements for strong calls to action and purchasing incentives is a great way to get them coming back. Do not inundate them, but using technology to stay top of mind ensures their attention will not wander.

Similarly, some automation tools have the ability to monitor a prospect’s browsing behavior on your site in real time. Everyone wants to strike while the iron is hot, so what sales rep wouldn’t want a notification that a prospect in their territory is viewing the solutions or pricing page?

None of this is to say that it is not important to stick to what works in your sales process, but to the savvy rep, these aggressive tactics are not pushy or particularly bullying, but yet another arrow in the quiver when closing the sale.

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Danny Wong

Danny Wong is a marketing consultant, sales strategist, and writer. He is a member of the marketing team at Tenfold, which provides a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. Connect with him on Twitter @dannywong1190.