Five ways to avoid the hard sell (and still make the sale)

- April 2, 2024 4 MIN READ


Whether it’s in a boardroom or on an unsolicited cold call, we all know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a pushy sales pitch. While this ‘hard sell’ tactic has its time and place, it runs the risk of pushing your customers away – regardless of how great your product or service is, writes Jonathan Pease founder of Winning The Room.

Mastering the art of selling is about more than knowing what to say. You need to tap into your customers’ psychology. Rather than relying on aggressive tactics, successful sales professionals understand the power of subtlety and persuasion when it comes to winning sales.

Here are five ways you can succeed without the hard sell

1. Understand what makes your customers tick

You must understand your customers deeply. It’s not just about knowing what they want; it’s about understanding why they want it. Take the time to truly understand what guides their behaviours. Use data and research to go deeper and figure out things like: What are their long-term goals? What motivates them to buy in their everyday lives? What keeps them up at night? 

Empathy is key – once you have some data, it’s time to put yourself in their shoes and consider their perspective. Direct communication is an invaluable way to better understand your customers and create a trusting relationship, so don’t hesitate to simply ask them face-to-face. By gaining insight into their true motivations, you can tailor your approach to resonate with them on a deeper level, building trust and rapport in the process.

2. Know your worth and protect it

Confidence in the value you offer is paramount. All too often, salespeople feel pressured to discount their prices or compromise on their margins to secure a sale. While this might seem like the better option at the time, this approach can erode your credibility and diminish the perceived value of your offerings. A great salesperson has done their research, understands the value of what they’re selling, and communicates the value proposition clearly to their customers. 

There are endless ways you can do this, but first and foremost, it comes down to the confidence you have in your product or service. When you know – and truly believe – the unique benefits and advantages of your product or service, it’s easier to walk away when someone simply isn’t interested. This all comes down to demonstrating how much you value what you’re selling. If you’re quick to discount or compromise, what will your customers think of your belief in your own offerings? Confidence conveys trustworthiness and professionalism, two very valuable characteristics when it comes to earning the respect of your customers.

3. Always add value

In today’s competitive marketplace, customers are inundated with sales pitches and promotional messages. To stand out from the crowd, focus on showcasing the value your product or service brings to the table, rather than fixating on pricing or other benefits. 

A great sales pitch will always quantify the value in terms of tangible commercial metrics, backed by case studies and data. By consistently adding value, you build credibility and foster long-term relationships with your customers. Emphasising the positive impact your offerings can have on their business, you shift the conversation away from price and towards value, making it easier to justify the investment.

4. Don’t be coin-operated

Demonstrate genuine care for your customers’ objectives by going above and beyond, even at times when you won’t be directly compensated. Hitting sales targets is always going to be a priority of any salesperson, but It’s important to avoid appearing solely motivated by financial gain; instead, prioritise delivering results and solving problems. 

When you have your customer’s objectives in mind (and genuinely care about them), you’ll naturally start adding value when you’re ‘off the clock’. This is a great way to demonstrate you’re invested in their success and committed to helping them achieve their goals. As with anything in life, though, it’s essential to strike a balance – this is not about suddenly doing everything for free! Instead, focus on adding value in ways that align with your expertise and capabilities, reinforcing the value proposition of your offerings in the process.

5. Remember to stop selling

As counterintuitive as it might sound, a great salesperson knows when to stop selling. This means recognising when your customer is ready to make a decision, and resisting the urge to oversell. Pushing additional products or services beyond their needs can overwhelm and confuse them, leading to doubts and hesitation. In some cases, it can even turn their positive experience into a negative one and make them think twice about the sale.

There is a point in any successful sales pitch when the customer is ‘sold’. This is your moment to pack up your things and leave. By respecting their decision-making process and avoiding the temptation to oversell, you create a positive buying experience and build trust with your customers. This is essentially about focusing on quality over quantity, allowing you to streamline the sales process, increase your overall effectiveness, and drive better outcomes for both you and your customers.

Selling minus the hard sell is ultimately about more than just making a sale; it’s about fostering great relationships with your customers who trust you to provide them with a valuable offering suited to their needs. Once you make the switch, you’ll never go back.

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