Sales reps get a bad rap for trying to sell too hard.

You’ve heard the term “pushy salesman” or “aggressive salesperson” or even “obnoxious salesman.” How do those phrases make you feel?

And salespeople go to great lengths NOT to be perceived as pushy, or aggressive, or obnoxious – so they (maybe you) go to the opposite end of the spectrum and try to be, or be known as, professional.

BEWARE and BE AWARE: A professional sales call is OK, but boring. Professional meetings typically have no outcome. Or worse, they result in never-ending follow-up, void of sales. Not good. Here’s a good way to think about professionalism: Your customer must perceive you as a professional person. It’s more of a look on your part and a perception on the part of the customer. In today’s world of selling, professionalism is a given. Your words, actions and deeds take over from there.

Professionalism is not bad, but professionalism alone will not net sales.

MAJOR AHA! Between pushy, aggressive, obnoxious and professional lies a middle ground – a ground where sales are made. It’s known as assertive.

CAUTION: Assertiveness is not a just word; it’s a strategy and a style. It’s not just “a way in which you conduct yourself.” Rather, it’s a full-blown strategy that has elements to master way before assertiveness can begin and be accepted as a style of selling.

Where does assertiveness come from?

• The root of assertiveness is belief. Your belief in what you do, your belief in whom you represent, your belief in the products and services that you sell, your belief in yourself. These are not things you believe in your head. Rather, these are things you must believe in your heart.

• An Attitude of Positive Anticipation. This means walking into any sales call with a degree of certainty that the outcome will be in your favor. It means having a spirit about you that is easily contagious, a spirit that your customer can catch, and buy.

• Total preparation is the secret sauce of assertiveness. This must include customer-focused pre-call planning as well as creating the objective, the proposed outcome, for a sales call. Most salespeople make the fatal mistake of preparing in terms of themselves (product knowledge, literature, business cards, blah, blah). The reality of total preparation means preparing in terms of the customers FIRST. REALITY: It’s not about changing your beliefs; it’s about strengthening your beliefs. It’s not about changing your attitude; it’s about building your attitude. It’s not about changing your preparation; it’s about intensifying your preparation.

BIGGER REALITY: When you have mastered belief, attitude, preparation and value as I have just defined them, then and only then can assertiveness and assertive selling begin to take place.

BIGGEST REALITY: Incremental growth in belief, attitude, preparation and value offered will lead to assertive sales calls and an increase in sales.

Your stature is your glue: Your professional look, your quiet self-confidence, your surety of knowledge and information that can help your customer, your past history of success and your assertive ability to ask your customers to be responsible to their customers and their employees. No customer wants to be accountable to a sales rep, but every customer has a mission to be responsible to his or her customers and co-workers.

When you combine your belief, your attitude, your preparation, your value and your assertiveness, the outcome is predictable: It’s more sales.