Does Hard Selling Still Work?
I've been writing about sales for over a decade and I keep hearing from various sales gurus and experts that the hard sell doesn't work any more. Nevertheless, I find myself running into examples where companies are employing it, apparently with enough success to justify its continued use.
For example, the New York Times recently published a couple of articles about hard selling inside the office supply store Staples. If the articles can be believed, Staples salespeople have been trained to push service contracts until they've heard "no" at least three times--a classic hard sell technique.
As it happens, Staples is one of my favorite stores (What can I say? I like office supplies...) and I've never purchased a computer there, so I have no idea whether the NYT article is true or not.
However, I have personally experienced the hard-sell of car rental insurance at several rental car outlets. In this case, the hard sell consists of telling customers the lie that their regular insurance won't cover rental cars.
And there's no question that hard selling pops up in car sales and insurance sales with enough frequency to make those into pariah jobs. (Car salesmen are usually considered only slightly more trustworthy than politicians.)
As somebody who studies sales techniques, I'm amused more than annoyed when somebody tries to hard sell me. However, I can well believe that some people, when confronted with these tactics, end up buying something that they don't want or need.
In my opinion, hard selling is a short-term recipe for buyer's remorse and long-term customer dissatisfaction. I tend to agree with the gurus that hard selling drives away more customer than it increases a company's sales revenue.
And yet, the hard sell still remains a fixture in some segments of the business world. Since sales executives (as a general rule) aren't stupid, I have to assume that they've done the math and have concluded that hard selling makes sense.
Or maybe these sales execs are just dinosaurs who don't know anything better?
Anyway, I'm curious what you readers think. Have you ever attempted a hard-sell? Have you ever been goaled on hard-selling? Have you pressured a customer to buy? Do you think these techniques still work in today's business world?
Like this post? If so, sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter.
GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist
Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.