What Is Hard Sell, And Why It Never Works

We’ve experienced it before, being cornered, and pushed very hard to purchase or sign up for something. That’s the typical hard sell tactic. As a buyers, we don’t like it. So why is it then that so many sellers are still using the hard sell tactic?

So What Exactly Is Hard Sell?

A quick look at Wikipedia will tell you that hard sell is “an advertisement or campaign that uses a more direct, forceful, and overt sales message. It’s when the seller literary looks straight into your face, and tells you to buy, buy, BUY!!!

Have you experienced this before?… Of course you have. Here are some typical examples:-

(1) Credit Card Sales Counter

You’re walking around the local mall on your weekend off minding your own business. You see a temporary kiosk, with a banner that says “[insert name] Bank Credit Card”. Before you know if, the swarm of sales “advisors”, wearing a uniform, colourful sales campaign t-shirt, starts to corner you like a pack of hungry hyenas. Armed with a fake smiles, and an overly used folder containing a few laminated pages of paper, they literary “assault” you, and tell you to apply for one of their cards. Yes, they tell you to, not ask you to… And before you even get a chance to inhale to tell them “No, I’m not interested,” they’d have machine-gunned off a list of perks and advantages that their cards carry over the one you’re currently using. And get this, they never even got a chance to ask you what card you’re currently using…

(2) Car Salesmen

You browse the car showroom, fishing for car that catches your eye. Instead of hooking an inspiration, you land an overly enthusiastic salesman. The exchange of sweet pleasantry very soon turns into a long string of memorised description of the car that you happened to be looking at. You take a pause, trying to figure out what hit you. But before you can react, in comes another long string of questions, interrogating very personal questions about yourself and your finances.

(3) TV Shopping Channels

You’re flipping channels, looking to see if there’s anything interesting to watch. You come across what looks like a cooking show, with the host slicing through some tomatoes, while describing in detail how good the knife handles directly to the camera… to you!… You’re intrigued, and imagine actually purchasing it. Before long, the host describes how you can purchase it at an attractive price. And if you “order now”, he’ll thrown in additional knife stand set… You’re either possessed, and dial the number straight to place your order, or more likely, completely turned off, and turn the TV off in disgust.

That’s right, we’ve all experienced something similar to this before. And anybody in their right mind will be completely repelled by it. But yet, the practice of hard sell is still very much alive and kicking. But why is it so?

How Do Hard Sell Tactics Reflect On Buyers?

Let’s face it, we’re all consumers ourselves. And being consumers, we’re the biggest group of buyers. We all need products and services to live, and we make hard decisions on which seller to buy from. That’s right, we decide who we want to give our money to, in exchange for indispensable products and services. And unless there are alternative sellers, we’d normally choose one that doesn’t hound us continuously, trying to pry our money out between our fingers.

Of course, we may not have choices in many instances, like who provides electricity or water supply to our homes. But of those that we do have a choice, we’d normally go with the “less irritating” seller.

We need banking services. We need transportation. Not to mention a whole lot of other necessities like food and sundries. We’re ready to spend money to purchase all these stuff. So there’s actually a ready market, a paradise for sellers. But yet…




Why Then Do Sellers Still Hard Sell?

Let’s face it, most of the medium-sized companies, all the way down to the single-owner, small businesses, are trying to “sell” you something. Whether it’s because they’re competing against another similar seller, or not, they just do. It’s as if the practice of hard sell has been ingrained in their business practice, something mandatory for all businesses to do.

Most large, multinational companies, don’t really practise hard sell, since most of them have a comprehensive branding exercise in place. And this subtly influences customers to choose their products over their competitors. Not all, but a big majority of them anyway.

Big Companies, Small Companies, What’s The Difference?

So what gives?… Why this strange trend?… Well, the biggest difference is that large companies generally put aside a certain percentage of their previous year’s nett profit. And this, in turn, will be reinvested into the current year’s branding, advertising and promotion expenses. Because they understand that investing into a branding exercise is investing into a long-term profit.

Smaller companies, due to their perceived smaller profit, almost always neglect to set aside a budget for this purpose completely. And when faced with engaging service providers for branding, advertising or even just to set up a corporate website, they’re in a bind. There’s literary no budget to speak of. And allocating funds from the company’s coffers will take some serious arm twisting to the finance manager.

Hence, majority of the businesses will have no little or access, or guide, to brand themselves effectively. Which leaves the good old hard sell technique to actually sell their products or services. But the inevitable problem, the ever growing number competitors, will eventually make it even harder to sell anything at all.

The harder the competition, the harder they’ll sell. But that will only result in even more disgust and hatred by the already limited pool of potential customers.

So How To Avoid Hard Sell?

If you’re an end-user, you’re in luck. You have more choice of ever increasing sellers to choose from, so choose wisely. But if you’re a seller, it’s time to think hard and long term. Preferably longer term than your competitors.

If you don’t like being on the receiving end of hard sell, then you should consciously choose not to hard sell to your customers too. Instead, choose other alternative methods to develop and elevate your brand. A successful brand will actually sell itself, with little to no input from you.

Food For Thought

“Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you” ~ The Golden Rule

If you don’t like being hard sold, then reciprocity is expected of you. There are many other ways to close a sale. And shoving it down the throat of your potential customer isn’t one of them.

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