When a teenager asks a girl out, there's a strong possibility he's going to get rejected if he tries to pressure her into a decision.
Pushy salespeople suffer the same fate when they approach sales with a high-pressure mindset. They want a swift decision; the faster they close the deal, the faster they can move on to the next one.
But what's the most likely outcome of either scenario? Neither one will have a long-term relationship after squeezing that "yes" out.
Why Sales Tradition Must Be Broken
Traditional tactics require that sales associates are demanding, forceful, and aggressive. These pushy salespeople are created by owners and managers who don't have compelling products or services to offer. They know if they don't close the deal right then, their chances of ringing the register drop drastically when the customer leaves. There are no "be backs" in their world.
This aggression further devalues the product being sold — and the brand being represented. When there's high demand for an item, there's no need to push it on someone.
And make no mistake: sales is a psychological game. Pushy sales tactics reek of desperation; the harder someone pushes consumers to buy something, the more doubt they create in buyers' minds. Just like a girl being pursued for a date, a shopper will shrink back and keep his distance.
Initiating the Breakup
It's true that a forced sale will create a relationship with a customer, but it's a very short-term one. Everyone has spent money they later regretted and a high-pressure approach only feeds the fear of repeating those mistakes. People's post-sale satisfaction will be low and they won't come back again. What carries more value: a transaction at the register or a relationship with a new customer?
So what does a hard close look like? Perhaps you recognize one of these high-pressure tactics:
Make Them Think It's Their Idea
The reality is that a great sale — like a great relationship — is founded on interest and attraction. A "yes" isn't going to make for a good date unless it's backed by enthusiasm, curiosity, and some level of trust. Likewise, a good sale is one the customer felt was her idea.
Here's why you want to establish a two-way street:
Two-Way Relationships Go the Distance
The really wonderful thing about low-pressure sales is that this approach works for everyone. High-end car dealerships are experienced with it; many of their salespeople are so confident in their products that they border on arrogance. They cultivate an exclusivity in their products and brand name — they strongly communicate that not just anyone can leave the lot with one of their cars, and they encourage you to shop around. Where else are you going to find a Mercedes or BMW?
But the soft sell works for soft-serve, too. Frozen yogurt company Yoforia encourages customers to sample different flavors, learn more about their ingredients, and explore on their own. The sales associates never nag their visitors and as a result, they saw their sales increase 40 percent in one year. In a competitive industry glutted with options, their approach made a big difference.
Whether a teenage boy picks his date up in a shiny Mercedes or a limping Yugo, acting like he drives a Mercedes can pay big dividends. Dates — and customers — seek confidence, and that's not found in high-pressure tactics. Encourage customers to sleep on decisions, shop around, and buy when the time is right for them. You'll find yourself in a long-term relationship that's completely mutual.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Mark Quinn is a Segment VP of Marketing with Leggett & Platt and has more than two decades of experience. Quinn writes a bedding industry and marketing blog called Q's Views.
March 19, 2014