7 Tips to Be Assertive AND Likeable in Sales: B2B Sales Training

12 min read
Sep 19, 2021

There is a single personality trait among salespeople that tends to divide the successful from the unsuccessful.

The people who close more deals in less time and those who are lucky to have a sale every now and then.

Having this personality trait is not a maybe… but a must if you want to join the leagues of the top players.

The personality trait that divides the successful and unsuccessful is assertiveness.  When you have an assertive personality, your potential is virtually limitless in sales.

Don’t feel like you have that assertive personality trait?

The good news for you is that nobody is born with the perfect level of assertiveness in their personality.  Rather, it is a learned trait, and you can develop it to become just as assertive as anyone else in the game.

With that said, you can up your sales game by adopting new practices that will shift your personality to a more assertive one.

And, NO.  Being assertive is not a negative trait!

On the contrary, assertiveness is one of the most positive traits that a salesperson can have.

Being assertive actually makes you more likable in your prospects eyes!  It’s the kind of trait that makes prospects not only choose you for their solution, but will make them want to refer you to other prospects down the road.

With that said, start integrating these 7 tips into your sales process in order to shift your personality to a more assertive one.

Over time, your personality alone will lead to more sales in less time!


Is It Good to Be Assertive In Sales & What Does It Mean?


In short: Yes!

Being an assertive salesperson is good for both you and your prospective customers.

Unfortunately, the idea of an assertive approach to selling and the label "assertive" in general tends to rub people the wrong way.

Many believe that to be assertive means to be overly-aggressive, overbearing, or just flat out mean.

However, assertion has nothing to do with any of those things.

With that said, what does it really mean to be assertive in business and sales?

To be assertive in sales means to confidently stand up for and let prospects know exactly what you have to offer them, particularly how you plan to solve their problems.

It's about knowing the value of your product or service and making sure that everyone who needs to know about it knows about it!  

Being assertive is a fantastic personality trait for sales reps to have because it helps them make more sales in less time!

Also, assertiveness is a particularly important trait for sales reps who feel like they lack control throughout the sales process.

In a way, being assertive is like playing offense in a football game: You control the process, instead of letting the other side or another party dominate, in order for you to make the sale.

Moreover, assertiveness is an effective personality trait and sales tactic that helps sales reps increase their overall success rate!


B2B Sales Assertiveness


How Does Assertiveness in Sales Benefit The Prospect Company?


At first, it may seem as if being assertive in sales only benefits the salesperson and their company.

However, assertiveness in sales benefits the prospect company just as much as it does the salesperson!

Think of it this way: Prospects have problems that they need solved.  Not only that, but they live busy and chaotic lives, just like you do.

With so much chaos in their lives, finding a solution to their problems in less time is a huge win!  And, the whole purpose of being assertive is to directly let the prospect know that you have their solution, without wasting any time!

Therefore, an assertive approach in sales is exactly what the prospects need (even if they don’t know it)!

Imagine that you walk into an Apple store looking for a new phone, and the salesperson doesn't confidently assert your options.  Instead, they mope around without fully guiding you through each of their phones.  You would waste a lot of time and be less likely to walk out that day with what you need!

Moreover, prospects unconsciously prefer when salespeople use an assertive approach because it saves them valuable time and energy in getting the right solution.  

The sooner they find a solution and the more straightforward it is to solve their problem, the better.  And, assertion is the way to do that!


What is the Difference Between Assertive and Aggressive Sales Techniques?


Don't get it twisted: An assertive salesperson is not the same as an aggressive salesperson.

Assertion does not equal aggression, and there is a fine line between the two.

Your goal is to make sure that you stay on the side of assertion, not aggression!

Here's the thing: You must always keep in mind that B2B sales relies on forming positive relationships with your company clients.

Aggression is not necessarily a good trait to have if you want to get into a relationship with someone. 

Aggression is an extreme form of assertion.  Rather than coming across as wanting to help the prospect, it is usually interpreted as you wanting to help yourself!

And, when the prospect feels like you are in it for yourself, they run for the hills!

So, how do you stay on the side of assertion rather than aggression?

It's easy: You need to check your intentions.

An assertive person wants to make a sale, but is intent on helping their client just as much as they are themselves!

On the other hand, an aggressive salesperson couldn't care less about helping the potential customer solve their problem.

Therefore, take a serious look at yourself and whether or not you and your sales team are intent on fulfilling your prospect's needs just as much as your own.

While you may not think that your clients can tell your intentions, they can feel them!

Moreover, they will be able to pick up on your aggressive tendencies as easily as they can any other emotion!

Emotions are palpable, and striking assertiveness instead of aggressiveness comes down to pure intentions!


How Being Assertive Makes You More Likeable


Like we mentioned above, prospects unconsciously like it when you are assertive!

They appreciate you guiding them through the sales process, because it saves them valuable time and energy in finding their solution. 

Therefore, assertiveness itself is what makes you more likeable in the prospect's eyes!

From their point of view, you are purely helping them find their perfect solution sooner and with less drama.

Remember, prospects desire their decision-making process being to be as short and sweet as possible!  If you can help them get that, then you are certainly more likeable from their perspective!

Assertiveness itself is a means for being more likeable!


Likable Sales Rep


How You Can be Assertive in Sales (& More Likeable)


Do you wish to close more sales in less time, be more liked by your prospects, and make them as happy as possible?

Then using assertive sales strategies is the way to go!

In terms of being assertive, it's more about how you do and say things than it is about what you do or say.

Integrate each of these 7 assertive sales tips into your strategy to effectively close more sales AND become more likeable in the process!


1. Mirror Body Language


First off, sales professionals know that body language speaks louder than words.

They understand that their prospects pick up on body cues even before the sales presentation begins.

Therefore, sales pros use effective body language tactics to demonstrate assertiveness.  Specifically, they mirror their prospect's body language.

Mirroring means that they try to mimic the movements and mannerisms of their prospect.

Mirroring unconsciously makes the prospect feel like they are in sync with the salesperson.  It makes them feel comfortable, even if they don't quite understand why.

Mirroring itself doesn't necessarily scream assertion, but it does give the prospect a feeling that they are on the same page with the sales rep.

Not only that, but it gives the sales rep something to do with their body that would otherwise show weakness or fear.  

The worst thing is to be unconscious of your body language and potentially demonstrate to the prospect some emotion other than assertiveness.

From the moment you walk into the sales pitch, mirror your prospect to create a foundation of assertion!


2. Use All Your Available Channels


How many times have you been bogged down by emails or phone calls and have chosen to bypass them for the sake of time?

More likely than not, it happens to you on a regular basis!

If being swamped with messages resonates with you, don't you think that maybe your prospects are feeling the same way?

Your prospects are probably just as busy if not more than you, so it's unrealistic to expect them to answer your emails or calls whenever you flood their inbox.

With that said, if you don't immediately hear back after a call or email, there's a good chance that your prospect is simply overwhelmed.  They're not ignoring you, they're just dealing with a flood of other messages.

Therefore, you need to take an assertive approach and reach out to your prospect via several channels.

If you don't hear back within 24 hours on email, give them a phone call.  And, if you don't hear back within 48 hours, send them a message over LinkedIn.

Use whatever available channels you have to get in touch with your prospect.

And, no.  You're not being annoying.  You're just trying to help your prospect find a solution to their problem sooner!

As long as you're using the right cold emailing/calling/messaging tactics, it's perfectly alright to try to get in touch with them via several channels.

In fact, research shows that prospects who communicate with their prospects through more than one channel have better relationships with them.

Don't be afraid to put yourself out there.

If you believe that you have the right solution for your potential customers, then what is stopping you from showing them that?


3. Use The Right Tone of Voice


Tone of voice is similar to body language in the sense the prospects use it to make assumptions about you without considering the words that you say. 

It isn't what you say, it's the tone of voice that helps them build those initial assumptions!

Therefore, you want to use a tone that evokes assertiveness, without sounding like Darth Vader.

Think of a voice that is calming, yet strong.  Relaxing, yet confident.  In a good mood, but not too happy.

Using this kind of assertive tone of voice does two key things for you, including:

  1. It calms the prospect's worries
  2. It makes you look more competent and confident

First off, when you use a calming voice, it relaxes the prospect.

More likely than not, they are experiencing some level of stress, and you can use your voice to relieve that stress.

The more relaxed they are, the more open they are to hear what you have to say.

Second, using this kind of voice that invokes assertion makes you look more competent and confident in the prospect's eyes.

When you talk in this tone, they will actually respect you and what you have to say more. 

On the contrary to what some people think, an assertive voice is a calming one.  It has nothing to do with yelling or being overbearing!

Even if you don't have all the right words, you can at least use your tone of voice to get the prospect on your side!


4. Use Mirroring Language to Get Information


Is there some piece of information that you need from your prospect that is essential to closing the sale?  

But, are you afraid to ask the question out of fear that it is too direct, or that it will make the prospect feel intimidated?

This is a tricky situation to be in because it's so important to get all of the information you need from the prospect.  But, at the same time, you don't want to make them feel cornered.

If they feel like they are being cornered, they will interpret you as aggressive and run out the door.

What is a salesperson to do?

Here's the thing: You can get all of the information you want out of your prospect without asking them intimidating questions.

In fact, you can get all of the information out of them without asking almost any questions at all!

The way to do that is to mirror what the prospect says.  Mirroring gets the prospect to tell you valuable information without you even having to ask for it.

The way to mirror a prospect is to repeat the last three words of what they say in a question format.

For example:

The prospect makes the statement: "We're really struggling to portray our brand authenticity."

You respond with: "Your brand authenticity?"

The prospect responds with: "Yeah, we don't feel like our messaging reflects who we are."

See how mirroring made the prospect give up information about their problem without you even having to ask for it?

Mirroring is a way to assert your dominance in the sales process without the prospect ever feeling cornered.

Use the language mirroring tactic to get all of the information you want without asking for it!


Shorter Sales Cycle


5. Cut Your Sales Process Time Down


Remember, in a prospect's ideal world, they would get a solution to their problem in the shortest amount of time possible.

Therefore, you need to try your best to cut down the length of your sales process as much as you can.

To do that, make the maximum amount of time in-between sales meetings to be 2 days.

For example, if your initial sales conversation is on Monday morning, schedule your second conversation for no later than Wednesday morning.

Additionally, never ever leave it up to the prospect to schedule the follow-up time!

Turning the tables over to them to schedule the meeting not only adds more work to their plate, but it decreases the odds that they will pick a date within that 2 day period.

Therefore, after your sales conversation, try saying something like this:

"How about we meet either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow over the phone?  Are you available between 1 and 2 in the afternoon, or 3 and 4 in the afternoon?"

If you follow this narrative, you give the prospect options, but don't completely pass the torch over to them.

Cut down the sales process time by asserting when, where, and how you will have your next meeting.

You may at first feel like a control freak, but remember that you are only helping the prospect reach their solution sooner!


6. Talk About Risks


Believe it or not, being assertive in sales involves some level of vulnerability.

Remember, being assertive is about confidence, and sometimes the best way to show someone that you are confident is to show a more vulnerable side of yourself.

The way to do that is to be transparent with your prospect by letting them know what is at stake for you.

For example, letting the client know that you have a limited amount of time to close a deal is a way to say that your time is a risk factor.  At the same time, it is a little nudge forward for them to speed up their decision-making. 

Think of it like showing your cards to your client: It's a bold move to make, but they will see it as confidence on your end.

Not only that, but it will make them feel like they are on more of an equal playing field with you because they too feel like they are also taking some risks.

Moreover, sometimes the most assertive thing you can do looks the least assertive from face value.

Don't be afraid to assert to your prospect that you too have things at stake in the sales process!  It will gain you valuable respect in the end.




There is no way to be successful in sales if you aren't assertive.

Assertiveness is not an option, it's a must!

Why is being assertive absolutely essential to success in sales?

Plain and simple: Being assertive is synonymous with being persistent.

Persistence means continuing to show up for your prospects every day, even if they don't seem to want anything to do with you.

Did you know that it takes an average of 9 times to cold call/email a prospect before they even respond to you?

Case closed!

Moreover, assertiveness is equal to persistence.  And, any salesperson who achieves any level of success MUST be persistent.

Even the best of all salespeople usually have to try several times before they get a response from a prospect.

Therefore, regardless of how experienced you are in sales, you will always need to be persistent.

Don’t be afraid to continue asserting yourself.  

Be persistent until you are able to help your prospect’s solve their problems!  If you have the best solution for them, then it is your duty to make sure they get it!


Final Thoughts: Is it Good to be Assertive in Sales?


You will never find a successful salesperson who isn’t assertive.

The more assertive you are, the more successful you will be in sales AND the more your prospects will appreciate you.

Before you know it, your assertive personality alone will not only draw new prospects in, but your existing client base will be more likely to refer you to other potential clients, because assertiveness is beneficial for everyone!

If anyone ever told you that being assertive is a negative quality, they are wrong... plain and simple.

Integrate these 7 tips into your sales process in order to shift your personality to a more assertive one and watch your sales success skyrocket!


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