This weekend I was helping with a construction project and at one point, I was cutting some drywall with a hand saw. (Which is pretty amusing because carpentry is not one of my strengths.)

As I worked, I noticed that the more force I used, the harder it was to cut the drywall. The saw’s teeth dug into the material, which made for slow, jerky progress. But when I applied light pressure, the blade glided along smoothly, resulting in faster progress with less effort.

The same principle holds true for sales. The more pressure we put on our prospects, the more they resist. The harder we push them, the harder they push back.

The days of high-pressure selling are over. Customers today simply won’t stand for it. Nobody wants to be pressured into making a decision, especially if they’re not ready. If we push too hard, they’ll just go somewhere else.

I’m not saying you should never apply any pressure whatsoever. Left to their own devices, prospects will often avoid making a decision if they can for any number of reasons:
• They’re not sure it’s the right decision.
• They want to see if the price will drop.
• It’s not a priority for them at the moment.
• They’re not sure they can afford it.

So you have to apply some pressure. (That board’s not gonna cut itself.) But only a little. Just enough to help them overcome the obstacles that are holding them back from making a decision that’s in their best interest. You want to guide them, not push them.

Whether you’re sawing or selling, when you use a light touch, you’ll get better results.