Pulling vs. Pushing

A Sales Methodology That Works

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This is week three of a series where I'll be sharing a chapter from my book (Stop Selling Start Helping) each week. If you missed the previous weeks, click here to view all chapters. To learn more about Stop Selling Start Helping, click here.

PUSHING VS. PULLING: A Sales Methodology That Works

Have you ever tried to push a string?

It doesn’t work. It bends under your pressure. It folds the minute you begin to push.

So, if you had to move a string, what would you do? You’d pull it, right? You could even tie something to the end of that string and pull it along, too.

Now, imagine your prospect as a string.

Pushing her won’t do you any good. So, consider pulling instead.

Sandler Sales Training CEO Dave Mattson is quoted as saying, “The Sandler sales methodology reflects a conversational sales model, with a ‘pull’ process instead of a ‘push’ process. Most salespeople throw a great deal of product knowledge at their potential customers, while the Sandler sales methodology focuses on pulling people in, using their knowledge of the product throughout the buying process.”

(I’ll share my bias here – I’m a huge fan of Sandler Sales Training. As of this writing, I’ve been involved with Sandler for nearly five years; and it’s made a huge difference in my business over that time.)

Why pulling works better.

Before I started with Sandler, my mentality going into a sales meeting was, “I need to sell them a website.” Sure, I’d ask some questions to find out what they might need, but the goal was absolutely to get the prospect to buy something from me. Walking away without the sale meant I failed.

So, I pushed. I pushed that string as hard as I could. And, sometimes it would work. They might be in the perfect situation and really needed what I had to sell. I wasn’t “pushy” in an annoying way, but my goal was to get to the sale.

As I began to learn the Sandler concepts, my whole mindset changed. This idea that we are to “pull” our prospects along (in a positive way, not a manipulating way) made a big difference. When we focus on uncovering their pain, understanding the impact that pain is having, and recognizing that we can help, we don’t have to “push” our product or service on the prospect; instead, both parties see there’s a fit and work together to create a solution.

Pulling allows for a “No.”

In the same interview referenced above, Dave Mattson added, “The Sandler sales methodology also gives salespeople the ability to receive a “No” when and if there is no clear ROI – if the numbers don’t add up, then it’s okay to accept that there is no fit.”

Another concept that made a major impact on my mentality in the sales process was this idea of “No” being okay. Rather than feeling rejected if the prospect didn’t need, or even want, what we offered, I realized we were not a fit for everyone.

Even when we’re approaching the conversation with a “pull” focus, sometimes our solution isn’t the answer, or they can’t afford our services, or there just might not be a fit for whatever reason. And that’s okay.

When we’re pushing, though, a “No” is hardly ever acceptable. If our only possible outcome is a “Yes,” and we push as hard as necessary to get there, the prospect feels pressured, and we often make promises we can’t (or shouldn’t) make in order to get the business.

Think of your prospect as a string.

So, next time you’re talking with a prospect, think of them as a string; pushing won’t do any good. Instead, consider pulling them...ask questions, understand their situation, and recognize whether or not you can really help. If you can, tell them you can; and if it’s not a good fit, be honest and let them know.

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