Nobody likes a pushy salesperson. All too often, you hear the common complaints from customers: “They didn’t listen to me, they just talked at me,” or “I felt uncomfortable, so I just left.” Over email and the phone – the domain of modern sales teams – it’s even easier to abruptly end an interaction whenever you feel put off.

But this, of course, is antithetical to the goal of sales teams. They need to be aggressive. They need to sell. How can they reconcile these two seemingly incongruous traits: the aggressive sale without the uncomfortable pushiness?

1. Take your time.

There’s no need to rush into a sales pitch. Many salespeople rush into the pitch the way most news articles rush into the lede, and the logic is similar: cram all the important information in as soon as possible, because you won’t have people’s attention for long.

The problem is, that method doesn’t always work – especially in sales, and especially with human interactions. It’s important to make people feel comfortable. That doesn’t just mean chitchat: a smooth introduction and discovery of their own needs, really hearing them out, would better precede the actual pitch.

2. Create a time limit – but reassure them this isn’t the end.

There usually is a time limit on offers, so this isn’t unusual. You see it all the time in marketing promotions: “Our biggest sale of the season, only 24 hours!”

If your customer is on the fence, a gentle time limit is an excellent way to force their hand. But to avoid sounding too pushy – it can be a transparent tactic, after all – always double down by emphasizing your own company’s guarantee, return policy, free trial period or anything else that reassures them that this isn’t a “final sale” kind of deal. (Unless, of course, it actually is a “final sale” kind of deal, in which case hopefully the marked-down price sells itself.)

3. Talk less; listen more.

The more your customer talks, the more comfortable they’ll be. But it’s not just about making them comfortable – it’s about learning what they actually need.

Any good salesperson will try and glean as much information from their customers in the time they have together. Particularly when the customer is coming to you, they’ve clearly exhibited some interest in what you’re selling. Never ask yes/no questions, because if the answer is “no,” it can shut down a conversation immediately. Opt for open-ended questions instead, centering around the five Ws: What brings you in today? Who is this for? Where is it going? When do you need it by? Why were you thinking of this particular product? This will help you find a better solution to their problems.

This is especially crucial on sales calls, where you can transform yourself into a resource rather than a salesperson. Offering valuable, insightful information reminds them that you’re trustworthy, informed and really invested in what’s best for them. (As you should be!)

4. Don’t take “no” for an answer… until “no” really is the final answer.

It’s a classic last-ditch effort to save a sale: “What can I do to change your mind?” (Or, alternatively, “What’s holding you back from buying this today?”) This is a dangerous line, because it can veer very quickly into “pushy” territory. The trick is not to play it every time, and to only use it when your customer is feeling comfortable but iffy about the decision. If they love the package but hate the price, that question can lead to a solution: a lower price, maybe through altering the package deal somehow.

In these final moments of a sale, having the ability to customize your product makes closing the deal far easier. If there’s one individual aspect that’s stopping them from buying, and you’re able to manipulate your product somehow to better suit their needs, then that’s what you want to find out when you ask, “What can I do to change your mind?”  

5. Master the art of the follow-up email.

If you’re pitching cold via email, but don’t want to bombard them with incessantly pushy reminders, keep the tone friendly, low-stakes and welcoming. Send your initial follow-up around 24 hours after the first, and be sure to remind them of the benefits of your product.

There are other ways to initiate a conversation, too. Ask simple questions: “Is this still something you’re interested in? Is there any more information that I could provide you with?”

It’s equally important to be clear and straightforward, not to mention savvy in knowing the format and style of your email. And if you think you’ve mastered that and still aren’t getting replies, the problem could lie in your email subject lines. Email marketing, and by extension email selling, is a never-ending learning process: you’re always tweaking your style to see what works best.

6. Focus on their problems, not your product.

If we’re being honest, sometimes a customer will investigate your product among dozens of others and get totally drowned in the sea of information that pools around them. It’s your job not only to promote your product, but also to be their stewart in this industry – after all, you know more about it than they do.

Understanding your customers’ problems ensures you’re not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Your product is not perfect for everyone, and it’s your job to sift out who it’s really meant for and convince them of the same.

Sometimes, this process means admitting that your product isn’t the perfect fit for them and guiding them elsewhere. Customers always appreciate this – it shows honesty and integrity. Don’t think of it as a lost opportunity, so much as gaining the public’s trust. And they’ll remember it next time they’re in the market.