Say NO to Hard Sell and YES to Adding Value.

Today I walked past a sales woman shouting like a banshee in a shopping centre in the suburbs.

Everyone walking past her gave her a wide berth.  

Pity because the concept she was doing her best to ‘hard sell’ was for a great cause!  Her hard sell strategy was lost on all her passing trade and she was clueless as to what she was doing wrong.  A smart woman stopped her mid-stride to tell her that she was being mildly offensive in her loud and rather brash behaviour – and she took huge exception to the critique.   But here’s the thing – hard sell is just so yesterday!  It really is!  People don’t want to be dictated and shouted at – our politicians do enough of that thank you.

“Off with their heads!  Because they can’t think for themselves…”

For those who don’t know what hard sell is -:

Hard sell is an aggressive sales tactic used to persuade your potential customer to make an immediate purchasing decision.

It’s loud and aggressive in both tone, style and personality. It shouts instead of talks.  It pulses and points in neons instead of being static for example.  It is designed to grab you by the scruff of the neck – shake you out of your auto-pilot mode applying underlying pressure on the customer to make an urgent purchasing decision. 

Hard sell does nothing towards brand building.  It is noteworthy as a short term sales tactic – based on the belief that humans procrastinate and are indecisive requiring ‘help’ to make a purchasing decision.  Many successful retailers appealing to  the lower market have used this strategy with great success. The rationale is that it helps the man on the street afford goods and services that would normally be unattainable to them.  Those against the ‘hard-sell’ strategy argue that this strategy goes a long way in a)  Starting retail price wars  b)  Training your customer to cherry pick your products and services for the lowest prices  c)  Does not build loyalty  d)  Affects your margins and ultimately the first thing to suffer is – service  

Ultimately – the danger with hard-sell is what I call ‘the wall paper effect’.  After a while you don’t notice wall paper – it disappears into a backdrop that many other things are placed on – eventually – you don’t see or appreciate the wall paper and the beauty of the design is lost on the viewer.  

So if we can’t hard sell – what should we be doing?   Well in my mind – having been a key accounts director for many years on a hard sell account this is going to sound weird coming from me…but today’s shouty lady brought this home to me yet again and I was driven to quickly pen this page to you….There’s a new hard-sell in town.  No more shouting.  No more aggressive sales talk.  No more urgent.  Must go now statements.  No more Buy now.  Now more… no more – why?  Because your customer is smart enough to know that next Sunday the price is going up and then she’s back to paying a premium price.  She knows that what you she wins on the swings she’s going to loose on the round-a-bouts.  So she’s going to cherry pick your range, your service and ultimately your brand.  

Adding value is the way to go.  Educate your customer on the features and benefits for the customer, make an emotional connection with them on the difference that your product or service will make in their lives.  Demonstrate this visually, physically.  Let her try it out.  Sample units work amazingly.  Proof is good.  One can also add value by offering combo deals with other brands or grouping product bundles.  We live in a world where price is parity…how can you add value to your customer’s life, how can you connect with them emotionally, how can you prove your worthiness of their hard earned money?  Do this and suddenly you’ll have them engaged, listening, learning and is interested enough to interact with you or your brand out of their own compulsion and not through subliminal mindful manipulation.  No hostage taking, no resentment, no recriminations. Just a mutually beneficial customer relationship! 

So in closing young lady in said shopping centre – you had such a great heartfelt story to share – it’s a real pity you didn’t listen to your customer and change tactic and engage with your customer in a softer, more emotive manner.  As the old adage goes – you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.