A hard sell is an aggressive sales technique which is frequently used for quick execution of sales. It’s often characterized by a forceful, invasive, and importunate manner of promoting a product or service. Generally, it can be described as a technique of persuasion to buy something immediately.
The term “hard sell” was introduced in the US during the 1950s. Its meaning hasn’t changed a lot since that time – it refers to a group of aggressive sales practices. Sometimes these techniques gain a lot of negative feedback from consumers, thereby decreasing the possibility of sales and repeat sales as well. For this reason some experts consider the hard sell as an outdated and no longer a popular sales technique. Moreover, there are some competitive alternatives that can be used for advertising. For example, a soft sell which is a low-pressure tactic.
Characteristics of the Hard Sell
The hard sell is aimed to sell a product or service despite everything. In some ways this technique is guided by the slogan “all means are good”. Salesmen can push the product by using an overwhelming manner of communication, direct persuasion, provoking, misleading, lying, or other unscrupulous tactics of selling. The hard sell includes cold calls, intrusive ads, unsolicited commercial emails, etc.
Probably, we all have experienced the hard sell techniques in our lives. Recall how persistent the salesman can be when he tries to execute the sale. Even if you say “no”, he might continue to push the product forward, because it’s a part of the hard sell technique. Generally, the seller has to keep pushing the sale until it’s done, or the consumer abandons the purchase several times.
Note that the hard sell is aggressive to an applicable extent. This technique can be persistent and annoying, but never rude or unethical. The salesman should always be respectful and do not cross the line of decency.
Pros and cons of the Hard Sell
The hard sell has a substantial advantage in speed of sales. It can benefit the company, salesman, and buyer as well. The first two get profits, while the last – a needed product or service in a short time. However, sometimes the hard sell pushes products that aren’t urgent for the consumers, therefore, from this perspective it’s more of a coincidence than a rule.
At the same time, this technique has some obvious disadvantages. First of all, an aggressive manner of communication often leaves a bad impression on the customers. Secondly, they can get offended by this manner of talking and try to avoid further interaction with the company. Thirdly, the offended clients can speak badly of the company and discourage other people from interacting with it, which negatively influences the company’s reputation.
Despite the speed of sales, some experts consider the hard sell unproductive and even harmful for business, because the aggressiveness usually scares people away, makes them feel uncomfortable, or triggers reactive aggressiveness. These unpleasant feelings leave the company without potential clients and profits.
Motivational system for salespeople
Salespeople use the hard sell technique in order to get money rewards, especially when these rewards represent the greater part of their earnings. The workers typically have a sales plan stating the amount of sales required to be made. They also can have unified scripts for conducting the dialogue with clients. These factors altogether make salespeople more concentrated on the amount of sales made rather than on the consumers.
Comparison of the Hard Sell and soft sell
As we mentioned before, there are different alternatives of the hard sell. One of them is the soft sell which is another technique of advertising products. It’s based on different principles from the hard sell. Let’s review some of these principles:
- Salesmen have to use a consultative speech style with clients.
- They have to be focused on the client instead of the sale.
- There is a possibility of delaying the sale in order to give the client time to consider the purchase. The seller still pushes the sale, but does it softly and subtly.
- Salesmen rely on the client’s emotions as the main persuaders for the sale.
Undoubtedly, the soft sell has its own disadvantages such as delay of sales because of the client’s indecisiveness or amount of time spent on each sale in general. However, this technique is more suitable for a certain type of clients and works better for them than the hard sell. Thus, it’s important to carefully study the target audience and choose a more suitable tactic for it. The hard sell is great when the client needs a product urgently and he or she values time mostly, while the soft sale is great when the client isn’t intended to buy the product immediately and values the relationship. Any of these techniques can lead to more sales for the company if treated properly.