Last week I wrote about what to do if you’ve found yourself in a situation where someone is using high pressure sales tactics. However, that blog post is only valuable if you know what high pressure sales tactics are! Another phrase we can use is to call it hard selling. This article will walk you through 9 hard selling techniques to watch for, so you know when you need to focus on walking away and doing additional research.
Cold calling is one of the most tried-and-true versions of hard selling. A person picks up a phone and calls someone they’ve never met to try to sell them something (investments, insurance, home maintenance items, etc.). People who cold call have lists of people and are trained for hours on how to initiate conversations and use tag lines to keep consumers interested and engaging in the conversation.
As consumers we constantly have to be on the lookout for high pressure sales tactics and hard selling so that we don’t enter into costly agreements that we then have to unwind. It’s much less costly from a confidence and financial perspective to say no and keep your money, than agreeing to something we later realize was not in our own best interest.
9 Hard Selling Techniques
- Pushing for a Decision in a Short Timeframe
We live in a fast paced world, and hard sellers know this. If someone is selling us something that is costly or there is mixed or no support for the product or service, the sooner they can get you to move forward the better. Research shows that when we have too many choices we are less likely to act at all. We are also less likely to say yes if our logical mind has time to override our emotional side. Hard sellers know this.
We recently had a pest control person in our home who was trying to sell us certain solutions. They clearly wanted me to make a decision on the spot. I wanted time to think through what they were telling me, as I wasn’t quite buying what they were selling. When they were leaving, they said they would be back in two hours and hoped I would have a decision by then.
They knew I had business meetings – my strategy to get them out of my house. So they thought I would have no time to do research in those two hours. That was a huge red flag. When they came back on the two hour dot, I told them I hadn’t had time to do research and I would contact them if and when I was ready to move forward. I used the classic, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
- Claiming Everyone Else is Involved
Before I started MPower Co, I worked in securities regulation. In my first job, I worked in a situation where we got customer complaints and it was my job (with the support of attorneys) to investigate to see if anyone had violated securities laws. In two instances I uncovered ponzi schemes. There were individuals taking money from one person to pay another person. They were stating the money would be used for investing in specific types of investments or a business.
Both of these ponzi schemes were what I would characterize as affinity frauds. That may sound like a big term; however, it simply means that the person doing illegal things was finding groups of people connected to each other and selling individually to each person in the group. Unfortunately, religious organizations are one of the most common places that affinity frauds occur.
If a sales person indicates everyone else you know is involved, don’t take that to mean you should be involved as well. You need to do your due diligence on what they are selling and make sure you are comfortable that it fits your needs and goals. Just because you are in the same group as someone else, doesn’t mean your situation is the same. Know that if someone else is trying to sell you a product or service solely because you are part of a common group that is involved, it’s actually a red flag that they may be up to something nefarious.
- Using Extreme Examples
Be aware of your situation and what the implications that may be involved.
We walk our daughter through a series of questions when she is concerned or worried about something. They are:
1. What is the worst thing that could happen?
2. What is the best thing that could happen?
3. What is the most likely thing that will happen?
Using those three questions isn’t only beneficial for kids to think through, it’s helpful for us as adults, too! Perspective is so important!
People who are hard selling often try to make things more dramatic than they really are. If they are telling you your house his going to fall in, when in reality the worst that will happen is you may need to replace an appliance, they’re likely hard selling you.
They may try to use comparisons to a life or death situation. They may use stories to make it seem like your home is going to fall in or your car is going to explode. Unless you think those are possible outcomes of your current situation, using stories that elicit fear is a hard selling strategy. Keep and maintain perspective on your situation, and don’t allow outlandish comparisons or fear mongering affect your ability to say no.
- End Result Seems Too Good to Be True
This is especially true in the investment world, but I’m sure it can apply to other scenarios. If what someone is selling (good or service) seems unrealistic, that’s because it probably is!
Know that the historical market return is 8%. If someone is telling you they can get you 15%, 18% or more, in a short time period (a month, three months, etc.). Then they’re hard selling you by promising an unrealistic outcome.
- Using Shaming, Blaming or Intimidating Words or Actions
This really goes along with using extreme examples to get you to act in a certain way. The word “should” comes to mind here.
Last year we were car shopping, and before I even agreed to buy a car the sales manager was already diving in to hard sell me an extended warranty. He was three steps ahead of where we currently were, and I tried to make it clear that I wasn’t even interested in discussing that. He didn’t agree with my sentiments and said something along the lines of, “That’s not how you should think; You should be thinking…” That was when I declared we were done, asked for my keys and walked out.
Using words to shame, blame, or intimidate you is a red flag that someone is hard selling you. You are entitled to your own feelings and sentiments. Don’t allow a person to use tactics that are or are borderline emotionally abusive.
6. Repeatedly Contacting You
“Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Repeat.
You choose how much you allow a salesperson to communicate with you. If they are calling you repeatedly, sending emails, or pushing you to act (refer back to giving you short time frames!), then something is amiss. Most things in today’s world are not a now or never thing.
Giving yourself time to think through your options, get a second opinion, and then making a choice can be very beneficial. Give yourself the gift of time, but not too much. At some point you need to make a decision so you can move on to Living.
7. Expecting You to Act Without Answering Your Questions
If you ask questions, and a salesperson minimizes their importance, they may be hard selling you.
What you want to know matters regardless of what the sales person thinks. If you have a question, ask it. Make sure their answer actually resolves your question. In the play Hamilton there is the phrase “He obfuscates, he dances.” If you think a salesperson is doing this to you, or making you feel less or asking for information, remind them that you are the CEO of your life. You are the one that makes the decisions and without information and knowledge, you will not move forward.
8. Not Caring For Your Goals
No one knows better than you what your goals are. You know the resolution you are looking for. You may not know the best means to get there, but that is ok! That is their job to help you find the right path for your situation and your goals.
If the sales situation is about the sales person, and not about you, then it may be a red flag that you need to move on to something else!
9. Use Deceptive Methods to Explain Your Cost
Hard selling people will minimize your costs to extreme lengths. They will focus only on your current costs. Make sure you consider on-going or future costs related to their solution. For instance, we live in a subscription world. There is a subscription for everything. If someone is hard selling, they may only focus on set-up costs, and not the on-going maintenance costs. Sometimes, looking for solutions that only have one up-front cost may be better financially in the long run.
Second, they may try to get you thinking in terms of your recurring payment instead of your total cost. The most obvious example of this is with respect to cars. A car salesperson will ask you what you are comfortable paying monthly on a car. They won’t ask you your total budget. They will then get you into a car and sell you a really long loan in order for your payment to be under your monthly threshold. What they aren’t telling you is that your overall cost for the car is going to be much greater in the long run. More money for them, less for you.
So, be smart when talking about money. Ask for the total bottom line amount, on-going payment detail, and maintenance. If they try to keep you focused on one number, it might be a red flag that they are hiding other hidden costs that are important to think about.
Final Thoughts on Hard Selling
Individually each of these examples of using high pressure sales tactics is a red flag. Sales people often won’t stick to just one, though, they will try a few. They’ll work to figure out which sales tactic most resonates with you and then keep focusing on making statements that appeal to what seems to be resonating. The best you can do is stay vigilant. If you pick up on someone that is using every tactic under the sun, don’t agree to anything. Use the steps I outlined in this high pressure sales tactics article so that you don’t make costly decisions.
Did You Like This Article?
Get MPower Co’s Newsletter straight to your inbox! Each Tuesday, MPower Co sends an email with a note from CEO Lea Satterfield and links to the current weekly article. Topics covered in Spilling the Financial Tea include financial habits, saving and investing, insurance, estate planning, and living a richer life. Head to this link to get articles like this sent directly to your inbox, so you don’t miss one!