7 Misconceptions of Lower Third Salespeople

Does the salesperson misunderstand the nature of selling?

Question to ask: "How would you describe the selling process?"

Here is the challenge you are addressing: Underperforming sales people don't want to come across to prospective buyers as "pushy". 

What you are looking for in the salesperson's response to the question above is an indication that selling is "pushing" prospects to do something they really don't want to do. 

Your salespeople won't come and say that for several reasons. 

First, you are their boss and they are certain that you don't want to hear an honest confession like, 

"I think our products/services cost a lot (re: too much) money."

 "Our top salespeople must sell a lot because they are pushy and too aggressive. I don't want to be that kind of person."

Second, they would essentially be saying that they are making a living convincing people to do what they really don't want to do. 

You probably won't hear them say things like that. 

Instead, they will give you indirect clues about how they feel about the selling profession, saying things like, 

"I am good at giving customer service."

"I do my best to answer there questions and then I let them decide what is best for them."

"I don't want to come across as a pushy."   

So... when you hear answers of that nature, it indicates the lower third salesperson misunderstands the nature of selling. 

To address this challenge, let's take a step back and look at the bigger picture... 

As a sales manager or business owner, it is important for you to remember that selling is an emotional activity.  

Selling is not like working on the line at a factory where an employee can basically perform the same quality work regardless of whether he or she is tired, upset, distracted, or feeling sick.
When selling, those same emotions and experiences above have a very real affect upon the 

  • salesperson's performance, 
  • the prospective buyer's response
  • the subsequent sales results.

This question addresses a deep-seated emotional selling objection. It is not a mental objection. It is an emotional objection.  Now in explanation, there are buying objections by prospective buyers and there are selling objections by sales people. These eight questions address different selling objections to salespeople.  


When you hear them say things like I don't want to be pushy, that is an indicator that they are probably dealing with this particular emotional issue.
This indicates that they this salesperson is not comfortable asking people to do something for them. They may do it because they feel it's their job. But deep down they may feel that they are either a, not being impolite. It's not polite to ask people to do things for you. Or B,they don't want to be selfish. That it is selfish for you to go to another person and say I want you to do this for me.  If you confront them directly about feeling selfish or feeling impolite, they may initially fight against that. 

They may resist the idea that they are dealing with this emotion. So it takes some finesse on your part as their sales manager or business owner to talk about it in a way that it is okay. 

 So how do you best approach this. First, acknowledge that most people do not want to be pushy. There are some people in the sales industry who are overtly pushy. In a very unpleasant way. And let them know that that is not the type of salespeople that you want on your sales team. People who come across is jerks. let them know that no one wants to be a jerk. Most people you know have the stereotype of sales people. So take these two sentences and massage them  

Second let them know that you that a lot of sales people feel the same way whether they are just starting out in sales or they been involved in sales for a very long time.  

Third let them know that you're glad that you're talking about it. That this is an important conversation to have. Both because you want them as a sales professional to be not just comfortable but very excited about the work they're doing. But also to make sure that their approach to how they work with their prospective buyers is also equally comfortable and valuable. 

 Fourth you want to find out if they feel uncomfortable with every aspect of selling. If they think every part of selling is being pushy. Or if there's just certain parts of their sales work that they find is pushing. 

For example, some sales people feel very comfortable asking people to buy goods or services that they absolutely need to have at that moment. Their air-conditioner breaks. Their license needs renewal. 

But yet on services that are preventative, or optional they are much less comfortable.  So be aware of addressing this question without finding out more about what it is specifically about selling that's making them uncomfortable. 

One question I will frequently ask is how they got started in sales. And then as a business consultant who doesn't know their background, I will ask them how they came to work for this company.

 And oftentimes in those stories you find out a little bit about whether they came out of customer service background for instance where they had very good people skills but they never had to work directly in asking people to buy goods and services.  

So what is the solution for a sales person who is dealing with this. Is to talk with them about different aspects of selling and allow them in a back-and-forth conversation to eventually reach the point where they can tell you things ways in which they now see selling differently. 

Do not expect this to happen in the first conversation.  Topics you can bring up for discussion include: you cannot make people do what they do not want to do. And ask them can a salesperson make a prospect buy something that you do not want to buy?  

And even if a sales person could somehow strong hands you strong-arm you into buying something you really didn't want, we live in an age of right of rescission that usually will allow a buyer to change their mind our fate later realize that they didn't want this.  

Another topic to discuss is the idea that the prospective buyer wants to meet with them. Or at least agrees to meet with them. And ask them do would you meet with a salesperson about a product or service that you have absolutely no interest in buying?  

Most people will say no. They will not spend the time to listen to a pitch no matter how good of a deal it is, if they are not even remotely interested in buying that product or service. So this prospective buyers that meet with them do you have some interest in finding a solution to a problem that they have or are interested in buying a product or service that will enhance their business or personal life. 

So it's important for you to hear your salesperson agree with you that there is some level of interest whether it is in your company or in your product, there is some level of interest in this particular product or service that is leading them to give a few minutes of their time to the sales person. And that is an advantage for the salesperson.  

One final point

When mentoring underperforming salespeople who are hesitant to "push" prospects to make a buying decision, remind them of the two basic tasks of a salesperson:

1) Present the products / services in clear, persuasive manner. Most salespeople are okay with this task.  

2) Help prospective buyers make decisions. 

 Some buyers have difficulties making any decision.  

Often prospects say they want to think about it, not because the presentation wasn't persuasive, but because they have difficulty making any decision!  

The answer lies in asking confirmation questions, as explained at the end of this article:  

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