Stop a random person on the street and ask for the first word that comes to mind when you say “salesperson.” There’s a good chance he or she will say “pushy.”

Unfortunately for reps, a new study from HubSpot Research found this adjective is far and away the most common word associated with salespeople, followed closely by the equally undesirable “biased” and “aggressive.”


And it’s important to note the survey participants weren’t prompted to choose words from a drop-down menu or a “check all that apply” list. Because this question used an open text field, buyers came up with these words without any guidance!


How can sales reps reverse the dreaded “pushy” reputation? It’s not as hard as you might think. 

First, listen to your customers. It might sound basic, but survey respondents said listening to their needs is the number one thing a rep can do to improve the sales experience.

Not only is it hard to aggressively push your product on someone when you’re not talking, but listening also enables you to identify the people you shouldn’t be selling to. 

Next, take an objective look at your selling style. Many reps pick up habits that come across as pushy or overly aggressive without realizing it.

For example, if you sprinkle your conversation with lots of “combative” words (like “must,” “always,” “but,” “obviously,” etc.), then you might think you’re being helpful and authoritative … but your prospect thinks you’re patronizing and controlling. 

Or maybe you check in just to say “Hey!” Sure, you think you’re keeping the relationship fresh, but your recipient is rolling her eyes and thinking, “Why won’t he leave me alone?”

Take a look at our cheat sheet of pushy sales behaviors  to see how else you may be unintentionally acting overbearing. 

While sticks and stones might not break your bones, a bad reputation will certainly harm your ability to close. Being aware of the problem and eliminating pushy behavior are fantastic solutions for individual reps. And on a broader level, if everyone joins the inbound selling revolution, we’re confident buyers will start associating sales reps with more positive words, such as “trustworthy,” “helpful,” and “knowledgeable.”

HubSpot CRM

Originally published Apr 20, 2016 7:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017


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