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How To Sell Without Selling: 6 Tips To Stop Being So Salesy

Sales professionals are advised to “avoid being too salesy “or “learn how to be less salesy.” Regardless of how ironic it sounds, this is good advice.

In their book Never Be Closing, authors Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne explain how the majority of sales tactics are designed to sell to strangers with the sole purpose of “wrangling a commitment to buy, even when buying may not be in the best interests of the client. ”

Times have changed. Effective selling today is different—it’s better, cleaner, and more empathetic. No dirty tricks. No salesy methods.

So let’s take a look at what it means to be salesy and how you can stop those behaviours too.

Salesy Meaning

Salesy is a term to describe a salesperson who pitches their product or service aggressively and superficially to the point of making the prospect uncomfortable, unresponsive, or annoyed.

A salesy sales professional isn’t interested in learning and solving their prospect’s pain points or challenges. As a result of their self-centric sales pitches and self-absorbed blabber, these reps hardly convert their prospects into paying customers.

How To Be Less Salesy 101: Avoid Common’ Salesy’ Sales Terms

Only 17% of salespeople think they are pushy, which is in sharp contrast to the 50% of prospects who consider sales reps to be pushy when they engage with them.

Before we deep dive further into the art of selling without being too pushy, you should know just how salesy you are—if at all. One of the best ways to determine this is by analyzing the words and phrases you use in your pitch.

Expert Note:
“The fastest, quickest way to get away from that being perceived as a pushy salesperson who just wants to reach into my pocket, is that you’ve asked me a question, or you’ve somehow demonstrated that you care about me and you’re interested in where I want to go and what’s important to me.”
Deb Calvert

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common salesy words and phrases. Start working on your pitch right away if you find more than one word or phrase matching your current one.

A: “Once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity”

Buyers today are intelligent and well-informed. They know whenever a sales rep uses phrases like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it certainly isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for their business.

If you address your buyers with heavy marketing like this, stop right now. Otherwise, you won’t be winning their trust anytime soon. You’re selling a product, not building a cult. Focus on adding value, listen to the buyer and share the real benefits.

B: “Cheap”

Many sales reps believe that cramming their pitch with the word “cheap” will help them capture the prospect’s interest faster. Newsflash: it won’t.

When you use the word cheap too much while pitching, prospects lose interest. They assume your companies product or service is of low quality and may end up not buying it.

C: “Trust me”

Your prospects will only trust you once you earn their trust over time—definitely not when you ask them to do so passive-aggressively. Further, if you use this in response to a prospect question, it’ll come off as condescending and evasive. #Fail

D: “To be honest… “

So you had been lying up until this point?

“To be honest” is an insidious phrase, and therefore, one giant red flag for savvy buyers. You were presumably honest during the whole conversation, so why call it out now? Cut this phrase out of your vocabulary if you want to win credibility with prospects.

E: “Guarantee”

Nothing is guaranteed, so when you tend to “guarantee “every single claim, the prospect knows you’re overpromising. It’s like a trap that makes you lose credibility, and in turn, your prospect’s interest. Avoid it.

F: “Features”

As mentioned, salesy salespeople have a self-centric mindset. This mindset is evident when they pitch their product: they cannot stop bragging about its unbelievable features.

The thing is, prospects aren’t interested in your product features. Instead, the buyer wants to know how your product will benefit them and help solve their challenges.

G: “Buy”

Shocker, right?

Using the word “buy” does nothing to persuade the prospect to place an order. People hate being sold to, so when you ask them to buy your product or service, they’ll decline instinctively.

Using positive and less demanding words like “invest “or “own “makes a much better impact. For instance, people like to “own” things that make their life easier. Similarly, they don’t mind “investing “in a solution that gives them their desired returns.

Do you see the difference?

H: “I want to/ I like to/ I love to”

If there’s anything your sales pitch should have little to no mention of, it’s “I”—or what you want.

Sales are all about the customers, which is why your pitches should be about your products solving their problems. There is no reason for you to mention what you want or prefer. They won’t care.

Think about how you can provide value and build a healthy relationship with the prospect to become a better salesperson. Adopting a consultative sales approach that guides the prospect to address the ongoing business problem is a good starting point.

6 Tips To Help You Avoid Being a Salesy Seller

Successful salespeople focus on helping—not selling. But, if you don’t stop being salesy, you’ll lose lucrative opportunities and leads. Here are a few tips to help you become non-salesy and close more deals.

#1: Know Your Prospect’s Needs and Challenges

Ideally, you want to create a win-win situation. In turn, this will help you establish and nurture a healthy relationship with the prospect.

Make your prospect comfortable by holding meaningful conversations with them. Then try to figure out their needs and challenges.

Consider asking the following questions to get started on the right track:

  • What do you think is holding you back from achieving your business goals? Can you give me a background on this?
  • Can you elaborate on the current situation of the problem?
  • How much longer can you go without resolving the issue?
  • Do you think this problem is leading to other issues?
  • Are you looking for a solution to fix this problem? If yes, have you decided on a time frame to solve it?

These questions should (hopefully) help you understand the prospect’s needs and challenges. Then, use the insights and tailor your pitch to talk about your solution from their context.

Remember the golden rule: listen more than you speak.

#2: Educate the Prospect

Salesy salespeople are pushy. They pressurize the prospect into buying your product or service when they should’ve been educating them.

Demonstrate your understanding of the prospect’s current situation and then guide them on how your offering is the perfect solution to their pain points. Next, present your product or service smartly, where the prospect can visualize the benefits of your solution.

#3: Sell a Transformation—Not a Product or Service

Your prospect doesn’t care about your product or service. Instead, they care about what your service can do for the prospect and their organization.

When drafting marketing materials and writing your pitch, ask yourself: why should your clients care? Then, guide your marketing strategy based on your answer.

Most salespeople talk about what they’re selling rather than why they’re selling it. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, stay focused on the transformation that prospects can expect. You can even share client results and testimonials to make them even more relevant to them.

#4: Sell With Integrity

Selling with integrity means selling with the truth. This is where the law of reciprocity comes into play: you should give and not give to take. Read that again.

Following this school of thought will come in handy when serving people at the highest level. They’ve invested time and want to have a conversation with you. So don’t be stingy with information. Instead, do the right thing and remain authentic, even when no one’s paying attention.

Trust us; prospects notice everything.

#5: Speak About Them, Not You

Customers want to know how your product or service will affect them. Unfortunately, they don’t want to hear about how your product or service affects you.

Make them the star and focus of your sales conversation. Always remember this simple point when conversing with prospects. This will help you become a more emphatic seller instead of salesy.

#6: Give Them Real-life Examples To Build Credibility

The best salespeople focus on earning the potential customers’ trust. They don’t lie. They give proof that whatever they are saying is true.

To earn your prospect’s trust, you’ll have to back your claims. And the best way to do so is by giving real-life examples. Share case studies of successful customer relationships and how your product or service helped your previous customers solve a problem similar to your current prospect.

Be explicit and clear when pitching, but never shift your focus away from the current prospect.

Master the Art of Effortless Selling

When you stop being salesy, you’ll see a significant difference in your results.

Focus on asking the right questions and building a lasting relationship with your prospects. It’ll help you create a good reputation and gather positive word-of-mouth publicity, ensuring you get more potential leads.


Will Barron is the founder of Salesman.org. He is an Apple award winning podcaster and on a mission to Make Selling Simple. Will’s flagship Selling Made Simple Academy training program has over 2,000 students who generate over $992m in new revenue each year.

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