Passive or Active Selling? The Answer is Both!

No two human beings on this planet, both past or present, are the same. None of us have the exact same genetic makeup, core values, beliefs, desires or ambitions. What does this have to do with sales or selling? Perhaps everything or nothing depending on your perception. What I want to make clear is that if anyone is going to make money in business they will have to sell in order to monetize their product or service. Since everyone is different is follows logic that the same selling techniques are not as effective for some as they are for others. Therefore, it’s best to utilize the techniques that complement each individual the best in order to reach, and maintain, the highest probability of success. Now let’s get into the two general categories of selling, Passive and Active.

(Keep in mind that their are multiple definitions or meanings for the same word or term. The definitions below are my own so they may or may not be inline with what you’ve found elsewhere).

Passive Selling –

The term “passive” means to allow what happens without any active response. Passive selling is derived from this and involves any sales technique where one has little or no concern for the outcome after the technique has been implemented. An example would be sending out an email to a prospective client that directs them to your website to purchase a product. Whether the recipient of the email opens it, reads it, goes to the website, buys the product, or even receives the email to begin with, no further action is taken. There will be no follow up phone call, text, social media contact to actively get the prospective client to continue towards the desired outcome of buying your product.

Email Social Media Low Context

This form a selling involves much less high context communication like face to face meetings, phone calls or video chats. It allows individuals to stay more within their comfort zone and can come across as impersonal. Generally speaking, the conversion rate to a sale is much lower due to a greater number of attempts being necessary. Examples of passive selling would include phone texts, emails, social media or mailers.

Active Selling

This form of selling would include any initial action taken, and subsequent actions taken, to facilitate a sale of a product or service. The key distinction is that there is a much higher level of control with active selling. With these techniques an individual is doing more to control a situation in order to cause something to happen. An example would be calling a prospective client, getting them to commit to a face to face meeting on the phone, and then closing them to a sale at the face to face meeting.


This form of selling is about gaining access to as much information as possible and using it to reach the desired outcome. Forms of high context communication allow for this to happen. Phone calls allow you to hear someone else’s voice, how they say words and with which tone or pitch they say words. Face to face meetings provide you with visual cues like mannerisms and facial gestures. Video chat combines all of this plus the ability to do it with anyone, anywhere at anytime. The level of comfort is low and the level of control is high, the exact opposite of passive selling. As a result the conversion rate to a sale can be substantially higher.

The Big Questions – Passive or Active Selling?

I already put my answer in the title of this post, It’s Both! I’ve never quite understood why society tries to make everything into a dichotomy. Maybe it makes things seem more simple, as if it was perfectly black and white. However, gray happens to be my favorite color and I believe you should never limit yourself. There is an entire spectrum between absolute passive selling and absolute active selling. If you have the ability to do both active and passive selling, or any hybrid in between, why not do it. I understand that different selling techniques will work best with certain personality types. I think that whichever type of selling or sales technique works best is what you need to be focusing the majority of your time and energy on. Yet, I also think that you need to be well rounded and utilize different sales techniques when the situation requires it. People and sales are fluid things, ever changing. If you don’t have ability to adapt then it means more work for the same amount of converted sales.

Gray is my favorite color, but Leverage is my favorite word. If active selling techniques scare the bejesus out of you don’t do them. That does not mean that you can’t utilize someone else who thrives in that type of environment. Hire a sales representative, ask a friend or find a business partner. Do what you do best, but don’t ignore what you suck at. Go find someone else to do what you what you won’t do, better than you can do it in a quicker time frame. Monetize every opportunity and know that it doesn’t need to passive selling or active selling, it should be both.

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