I've been told push a particular product to customers if at all possible. I'm okay with promoting it since it is a good product but I also hate when retail floor people come up to me and try and push something to me if I so much as glance in the direction of the product or am remotely associated with it. How should I go about pushing this thing without seeming like I'm pushing it?
I would be looking at definite things that your product does to help that person and mention those, also listen to your potential customer and take their information on board. Not only will that help your product in the future but the customer will remember you and your company as approachable.
If you need to do the hard-sell then do you have the right product for the person? Does it make its own purpose clear? If not then you might want to mention this to your company.
It's easy, let the customer think they brought it up.
I did retail sales for many years and was always one of the best in every area I worked in. The entire secret is to make conversations and use psychology. Lead the customer's conversations to the product that you are trying to sell. I will give an example from my work experience where a customer came to my store to purchase an MP3 player and I sold them a smart phone instead (it was early 2010 so smartphones were newer to the general public).
Customer: Hi, I am in need of a new MP3 player
Me: What happened to your old one?
Customer: It broke. I dropped it while jogging and it got water damage.
Me: That's horrible. Did you have any sort of insurance on the device?
Customer: Yes but they didn't cover accidental damage.
Me: Well, I know you are not looking for this but the newer smart phones will play your MP3s and with the insurance through the phone company, accidental damage and even lost is covered. Would you be interested in looking at those instead?
What I did was steer the conversation by asking questions that would allow me to steer the conversation to it. After that you start talking about the benefits of the product you are recommending and make sure, if at all possible, you get the customer to touch the product.
Also, stand a proper distance and watch how far the customer stands from you. If they are a full arm's length away, they do not trust you at all. If they stand about elbow's length away, they put you into their personal space meaning that they trust you and will value your opinion. Read the body language, it will tell you more than anything.
I have personally been caught in the same position having to meet a weekly quota selling a great product but not a fan of the stereotypical salesman image as you describe. I always used stories to get the customers mind working on how the product I am selling could be used in their day to day life.
To create a powerful perception of value and consumer worth of this product you are selling, you need to tell both the “before” and the “after” story – you need to tell customer stories that have contrast. When you tell stories from either other customers or yourself, don’t be afraid to link the stories with emotion. Often the best way to do that is to talk about the people as though you personally know of the struggles they had prior to buying your product. Then talk about how their lives became better, easier, more fun, or less stressful after using your solution. By doing this, you're not trying to force the product onto them, but attempting to enlighten them on what practical uses they could get out of your product.