Sales Profile- Aggressive vs Assertive Sales Reps, Who’s on Your Team?

Almost without exception, I speak with sales executives who understand that improving the performance of their sales force is a sure way of increasing revenue. One thing we hear often is that sales execs wish their reps would be “more aggressive”. Whether it’s driving new leads, upselling, closing, – whatever stage of the sales process management would like to see improved – they often believe aggressive sales reps will get them to their goal.

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Those sales execs have it wrong. What they don’t need is aggressive sales reps, what they do need is more assertive sales reps, and an accurate sales profile can help with this.

The Problem With Aggressive Sales Reps…

We all know that a salesperson barking “Buy now or the offer is off the table” can do more to alienate potential clients than earn their trust. This kind of pressure can antagonize customers, destroy the rep-customer relationship, and negatively alter the customer’s perception of the entire sales organization. It takes time to establish trust in a rep-client relationship. And aggression can rapidly ruin this bond.

Aggressive sales people can also be difficult to manage, as they can lack real people skills. These lone wolves aren’t interested in being team players, and are less likely to positively contribute to the morale of the work environment.

Why Assertive Sales Reps Win…

Assertive sales reps ask customers questions that move the sales process forward, without alienating the customer. Asking questions in an assertive manner, such as “What is the specific date you have in mind for making a decision?” shows the customer the rep understands and respects their buying process. Tactics like these go a long way to building rapport with customers and positioning the sales rep as a trusted advisor.

Always looking to move the sales process forward, the assertive sales rep inserts probing questions into conversations. Their calm, relaxed demeanor loosens up prospects and gets them sharing pain points sooner, making assertive sales reps excellent at discovering opportunities to work with prospects.

According to Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence, everyone- including customers- are more likely to be influenced by people we like. Who would you rather spend time with- a pushy person who doesn’t listen to your pain points, or a confident listener who offers help based on your specific needs?

And while likable salespeople come in all flavors, assertiveness in an important ingredient. Can you imagine what an intensely assertive salesperson would look like? Right! Aggressive!