It’s Hard Not to Hate the Hard Sell

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Some salespeople will do just about anything to convince you to purchase. But by creating a culture in which sales must be closed at any cost, a business may pay the ultimate cost, with brands that turn customers off, sales that cannot be sustained, and efforts that in the long run are failures.

In its Ask an Expert column, USA Today explores the implications of the hard sell. And when aggressive sales tactics are used because a product simply doesn’t sell itself, the results aren’t pretty. Such as:

•Poorer quality sales: When you force someone into buying something they may not really want, what you are really doing is setting the business up for failure. What often happens is that later, when the pressure is off and customers consider the interaction and the products they purchased, they decide that they do not really want or like the product. They will return it or even cancel their credit card authorization. What the company is left with then is a faux-sale and a disgruntled customer.

•Disgruntled customers: Indeed, this is potentially an even worse problem. Customers who get products or services crammed down their throat don’t usually stay customers for long. Feeling used and abused, they rightfully take their money elsewhere.

•Unhappy employees: The parade of bad outcomes keeps on coming. Aside from fake sales and unhappy customers, forcing the hard sell strategy on your staff often leads to low morale and high turnover.

So why do companies employ the hard sell at all? Because it works to generate sales in the short run, and people—sales staffers, managers, and consumers alike—have brief attention spans. And if you are unfortunate enough to have a toddler’s attention span, you’re apt to fall victim to hard sells again and again and again.