Enthusiastic or Pushy? What's the difference?

As a direct sales coach, I hear it all the time:

I don't want people to think I'm being pushy

There's a difference between being enthusiastic about your business and being pushy.

Pushy, to me, comes off more as bullying, or force-feeding your agenda on unwilling, or unsuspecting people.

Enthusiasm is a contagious attitude that is positive in nature.

One stems from fear, the other from faith.

In fact, the word enthusiasm is derived from the Greek, meaning "God inside". You've no doubt seen enthusiastic people, perhaps 'bouncing off the walls' a bit, as if the fire of deity burned within them.

Enthusiasm is a motivating, inspiring force. Pushy is an oppressive, demanding force.

As business owners, we need to realize that we can be enthusiastic, and even FIRM about our expectations without being pushy.

Granted, there will always be a small cadre of folks whom you can never satisfy. Someone will always find fault with you. This is not for those types - since you really shouldn't be building your business around them anyway! They're certainly not your perfect fit customer.

When you've developed a following of 'fans' - what I call "crack addicts", they will pick up on and share your enthusiasm.

Fans rarely (if ever) share your pushy attitude.

Let's look at an example of reasonable expectations and enthusiasm in your business - and when they might turn into pushiness.

You're at an event, demonstrating the versatility of your product. You begin to share how this particular product has saved you hours of time at home, and made your life less stressful and more enjoyable. You smile and others smile with you. People begin asking questions and you can tell you've hit on a topic of interest.

So far, you get high marks for enthusiasm.

Suddendly, you notice two women (we'll call them Jane and Mary) are asking the bulk of the questions. Both seem very interested not only in your product, but also in your business opportunity. You answer their questions, and Mary schedules an appointment to talk with you further.

Inside, you are doing the dance of joy. Your smile is as big as all outdoors. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and others begin to ask for additional information about your products - but not Jane.

At the close of the event, you pull Jane into a corner and begin to tell her all the wonderful reasons why she should take your information and set up an appointment to tal with you further. She politely declines and you insist that she'd be great at what you do and she should just take the packet and "sleep on it". She tells you she's not very good at sales, and you proceed to tell her why you felt the same way when you started, and that you found with a little practice you got pretty good, and now you're making good money each month and that she won't lose anything by just taking the packet and setting up a time to chat with you.

Okay. I hope you see where you went from enthusiastic to pushy. Assuming you do get Jane to set an appointment, it's highly unlikely that she'll show - or ever return your calls again.

Enthusiasm is one way of providing value to the world. We're helping others, sprading a positive message or positive energy in a way that seeks only to serve. When we're enthusiastic about our product, we want the WORLD to know how great it is.

But when someone disagrees, shows a lack of interest, or simply refuses to participate, we begin to feel as if WE'VE been rejected - and take that rejection personally. That's when fear - and pushiness - set in.

When "everyone else" was so excited about our offering, the enthusiasm was contagious. The moment we see someone who's not "on our side" we begin to think something's wrong - and we move away from helping the other person and move into defensive mode - trying to "overcome objections" and "close" them to a decision.

Some people just take more time than we're willing to give them to make a decision.

Here are a few tips to avoid feeling (and being) pushy:

1. Always ask yourself if you are providing a real value to the client.
Real value is in the eyes of the client, however, so this can get tricky. you may THINK you're providing something valueable - after all, you shelled out $5 per recruiting packet and it comes with free samples - but the client has no interest in joining your team, so they see no value in what you're offering.

2. Look to the client's desires first.
This ties into number one above. If you are seeking to understand what's important to your client at any given time, you will rarely be perceived as pushy. In fact, you'll be seen as incredibly helpful, somewhat refreshing and a nice, friendly person. Why? Because so few people take the time to care these days. Perhaps a client has difficulty expressing their desires. The act of seeking to understand them FIRST goes a long way towards building a lasting relationship.

3. Keep your mouth shut.
I wanted to say listen, but today, so many people are hearing what's going on and instead of truly getting to the heart of their client's issue, they're preparing their rebuttal or their comeback statement. This is something I STILL struggle with because my mind races a million miles a minute trying to find solutions for people. You have to close your mouth - including the voice in your head - and LISTEN to what your customers want and need. Ask them. Then shut up long enough to really hear what they're saying.

4. Vocalize appropriate expectations.
As a business owner, setting clear expectations of your customers does not make you pushy. It is completely acceptable to say "I'll call you on Tuesday to confirm" and then call on Tuesday. You've laid out an expectation, and it's your responsibility to follow up appropriately.

It's NOT appropriate to then call Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and THREE times on Saturday. THAT'S being pushy. There's probably a good reason why Jane isn't returning your call - and if you've "camped out" on her phone line every day for a week, chances are good she'll NEVER return those calls.

And I hear you asking 'but what do I do if they never return my call? Well there are two considerations here. First, did they REALLY want to talk to you in the first place? If you strong-armed them into accepting a call from you, they may be looking for any excuse to never return your call. Those are not perfect-fit customers, and you need to rid yourself of them ASAP.

If they are still very interested in connecting with you, try a postcard, text message or other means of contacting them.

Just make sure you don't do one a day for a whole week. There's keeping in touch, and then there's being desparate.

One is an act of enthusiasm. The other is an act of pushyness.