How far is too far? Go there and find out for yourself.

How far is too far? Go there and find out for yourself.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


How far is too far? Go there and find out for yourself.

Jeffrey: I have discovered the ultimate sales question! The answer holds the key to sales success!
Q: When have I, as a salesman, crossed the line from being aggressive to obnoxious?! I believe what really separates successful salespeople from weak ones is the willingness to risk pissing off the buyer or as you would say, willingness to lose the sale. However, I’ve seen good salespeople get ostracized for taking chances.

Example #1: A salesman in the ad sales industry ticks off advertiser #1 by pressing too hard for an ad in one issue of his magazine. He’s now dead for 12 months.
Example #2. A salesman receives an order for 3 months of business and calls Mr. Customer to tell him if he doesn’t commit for six months he’s wasting his money. He gets the 6-month deal.

In many respects I’ve done both. The real question on the floor is: “What would you do?” “How far would you go?” I don’t expect an easy answer just insights (not platitudes). Please help.Cheers, Art

Art: Among the fine line of sales, the line between aggressive and obnoxious is one of the top few. You have chosen to show it at the end of a sale. Most salespeople who cross this line, do it at the beginning of the sale. Most notable are telemarketers, door-to-door cold callers, and car salesmen. More than their share are obnoxious. They can also get pretty obnoxious (even abusive) at the “close”.

Aggressive risk is associated with self-belief and intelligence. Or better stated, the more you believe in your company, your product, and yourself, combined with the reasons you’re confident, will be winning for BOTH you and the customer. And of course, the more the salesperson is willing to “risk”, the farther the line can be stretched. The better relationship you have, the more you can stretch the line.

IMPORTANT UNDERSTANDING: The more the salesperson believes that his or her product or service will help the customer (more than the commission will help his wallet) the more the line can be stretched.

(dumb) Obnoxious risk is usually taken by people who have no understanding of the sale or the customer (even though they are convinced they’re the smartest people in the world). This almost always results in a loss of revenue — and eventually lead to loss of job. There is a .5 for this one — as soon as something goes wrong, they blame everything else.

(smart) Obnoxious risk is taken by people who know what they are doing, but have less respect for the prospect or customer than they should. They want more than the prospect or customer is willing to give. Or they want the sale sooner than the prospect is willing to give it. The result is a lost sale and a loss of face (reputation). And of course, a loss of revenue.

Quick answers:How hard do you push? You don’t push at first, you ask questions to create a pull. Push is “sell.” Pull is “buy.” People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.
When do you push? When you believe you are the BEST answer, and you are not getting buying response to your pull. How long do you push? Until the prospect or customer says “yes.” What were you thinking I’d say?When (if ever) do you give up? When you believe in your heart that you can no longer help the customer, you quit. Until then, you hang in there.

Here’s an intelligent way or three:
Offer additional items of value to the customer. In your case they would be things like a mailing list, bingo (response) card leads, web exposure, special positioning.
Create a list of 25 “pull” questions. Questions about profit, image, brand, customer needs, loss of service, morale, productivity, and other areas of the customers business that relate to what you’re selling.
Create compelling pull. Call their customer, have them call the advertiser and offer to do a testimonial ad. It’s a guts move, but it’s harder to turn down a customer than a salesperson.

In a nutshell: Aggressive is part of selling. Obnoxious is over-the-line crass behavior that salespeople have used for years to try to force the sale. Aggressive is what has made salespeople wealthy. Obnoxious is what has created unemployment.

Free GitBit… Want a list and brief description of some other “fine-lines” of selling? Go to — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the words FINE LINES in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to