Assertiveness is the best strategy for engaging, establishing control, proving value, creating a buying atmosphere and forging a relationship.

Last week, I wrote about the root of assertiveness as a state of mind and a state of preparation before a sales call.

You must read, understand and put those concepts into practice before taking on the two remaining parts of assertive selling: the sales presentation itself and the follow-up to the sales call.

THE PRESENTATION: When you get in front of a prospective customer, it is imperative that you look impressive and sound impressive. You know the old saying, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” You must start in a positive position in order to create a positive outcome.

Assertiveness begins with your eye contact, smile and handshake. These actions establish you in the mind of the prospect as a person who is both self-assured and happy.

You take a relaxed seat. You accept anything that is offered to you in the way of water or coffee. You put yourself in the lean-forward position. Any tools or equipment you need to make your presentation are in front of you and ready to go. And you immediately begin by discussing anything other than your business and their business.

You begin the business of making friends. You begin the business of creating mutual smiles. You begin talking about them in a way that lets them know you’ve done your preparation and your homework.

The segue from rapport-building to business discussion requires an assertive thought process. There’s no formula, but there is a feeling. The salesperson’s responsibility is to feel when it’s right to move forward, and then have the assertive courage to do it.

Assertive presentations start with questions, offer unchallengeable proof in the middle, and end with a customer commitment that you have earned.

The people you’re calling on want to know what’s new and what the trends are in their business. If you can deliver those during your presentation, I guarantee you’ll develop a value-based relationship and have the full attention of the buyer.

The assertive presentation challenges you, the salesperson, to bring forth a combination of your knowledge as it relates to their needs as well as a durability to connect both verbally and nonverbally with the person or the group you’re addressing.

You’ll know your assertive strategy is working when the customer or the prospective customer begins asking questions.

At some point, you have to complete the transaction. This means either asking for the sale, or using some secondary means to confirm the sale (like scheduling delivery or installation).

Commitment to the order is where the rubber meets the road. If you get the order, it means you’ve done an assertively great job. If you don’t get it, it means you have to lapse into assertive follow-up mode. Here’s how.

THE FOLLOW-UP: Assertive follow-up will become permissible if asked for, and agreed upon, in advance.

“Mr. Jones, what’s the best way for me to stay in touch with you?” “What’s your preferred method of communication?” or “May I send you an occasional text?”

If I ask for a “follow-up” appointment, I’ll no doubt get some vague runaround, but if I offer to come back with some valuable information about his or her business or job function, I’m certain to be granted that appointment.

The path to secure a relationship with your customer begins with assertiveness.