Are You Willing to Push Back?

One of the biggest metamorphosis I’ve experienced since becoming a consultant in 2005 is the art of the “push back.”  As an insurance sales professional for nearly 20 years, I studied many sales approaches and most always preached that the client or prospect are “always right.”  You never wanted to cause any waves, take any chances on creating friction, or take an alternate view because you were scared to death of losing the sale.

For those of you in business, I have two words for you – STOP IT!

All this timidness ever produces is a “yes man” mentality and even worse, a relationship where the client or prospect is more important than you.

The reality is that your client and you are peers.  This doesn’t mean you should ever be rude, snide, arrogant, or bossy.  What it means is that you have a healthy enough relationship where you can push back in confidence, especially when it means your client benefits.

I’ve recently had several excellent debates on Facebook with friends on topics related to politics and current events.  We often don’t agree and respectfully spar with each other.  In the old days, I may have held my tongue in fear that someone “important” might read it, disagree, and never want to do business with me.  Well, my viewpoint is also important.  I may not always be right (as my wife often points out to me), but I’m willing to debate, learn more, and be interesting.  I’ve yet to lose a friend (as far as I know) and often develop a better relationship.

Your client or prospect doesn’t need a “yes man.”  They need someone to hold them accountable, challenge their ideas, help them to grow, create more opportunities, and in the end improve their condition.

Here are five strategies you can employ in your business AND personal life:

  1. Don’t be afraid to offer a differing opinon.  Someone may learn from the process or at the very least be better educated from it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to push back to a client or prospect.  If it’s in their best interest based on your expertise, they will respect it.  Think of it this way, if you are always agreeing with them, why do they need you?
  3. Challenge ideas.  Ask why they feel that a particular strategy will work; offer alternatives; find potential flaws.  Better in the beginning than when in motion.
  4. Become an object of interest.  My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss always stresses this and I am a big believer in it.  Read newspapers, follow current events, have opinions.  In addition, ask questions and respond.  This is part of becoming intelligent and interesting person to others.
  5. Be provocative.  I’ve been thrilled that many of my blog posts have drawn comments, especially ones that disagree.  We can agree to debate issues while being respectful.  It adds value and educates.

Bottom line – in order to become someone of value to your market, then you need to stay away from being robotic “yes men and women.”  Commit to helping others by pushing back when you need to, creating a buzz, and becoming an object if interest and intrigue.  In the end, you will find that it improves your career and your life.


2 Replies to “Are You Willing to Push Back?”

  1. Dan,
    Great article, I’ve found in my coaching of business owners and senior executives push back is mandatory in order to move the business forward. Just today, I challenged my client, the owner of a $20 million construction company, to give me reasons why he couldn’t step up and make a decision to improve his business by modeling a former employer’s approach. After a five-minute dissertation explaining why it worked so well in the other company he worked for, I said, “so, you didn’t answer my question. Tell me why it can’t work here.” He responded like Ralph Kramden who gets caught in a pickle “humina humina humina.” And, we proceeded to create new expectations and standards for performance behaviors.

    Push back is vital if we are going to provide true value to our clients, because without push back people will not stretch themselves enough to look beyond their comfort zone.

  2. Spot on again. We are daenilg with the affects of a major flood right now. We have no power phone or internet. Each day we can’t work is a setback. Thankfully our house is fine. Such a timely post. Thanks Megan.

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