7 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
All sales involve some degree of pressure; the confident salesperson is attempting to convince you into buying their product or signing a contract. Sales should also be mutually beneficially, though; both parties working towards, and in favour of, the same goal.
But, what about instances where this isn’t the case, and the deal isn’t mutually beneficial? This is a case where a salesperson is focussed on selling the product, as opposed to involving you and your needs in the process. It is in these scenarios that high-pressure sales techniques are put into use, used to herd customers into a corner and manipulate them into a deal they’re not interested in.
These sorts of situations are intimidating, intentionally so. It can be difficult to 1) notice these tactics whilst they’re happening and 2) know how to get yourself out of the situation without agreeing to the product. In this article you’ll find a guide on how to recognise, and deal with, these high-pressure sales techniques.
Recognising the Tactic
As aforementioned, all sales have a degree of pressure involved; so how do you spot the bad ones? Below is a tick-list of common experiences during a high-pressure sales encounter. If you think you’re experiencing any of these then stay alert:
|A gut feeling that something isn’t right|
|The sales pitch lacks information, options, and elaboration|
|The salesperson is condescending or it feels like you’re being bullied|
|You feel scared or vulnerable|
|You feel like you’re being backed into a corner|
|The salesperson tells you that there’s no time to consider your decision|
High-pressure Sales Techniques, and How to Avoid Them
- THE TIME LIMIT
This typically involves the salesperson catching on that you’re hesitant about a deal, and then informing you there’s a time limit on the deal. This is used by sales people to create pressure, making the customer think that they’ll lose out on a deal if they do not act immediately.
Often this means the customer doesn’t have time to consider alternative options, nor read the terms and conditions. This can lead to people signing contracts which contain incriminating small print which will leave you caught-out later.
HOW TO HANDLE
The most beneficial thing you can do in this situation is:
Take a second. Breathe.
Stepping away from a deal for a minute can provide you with the necessary headspace the salesperson is trying to rob from you. This minute will let you process the deal, think about whether you actually want it, and recognise if you’re in an intimidating situation.
This strategy is best used on impulse buyers who don’t consider the repercussion of their action beforehand. Go into the situation knowing your mind, your needs and remember to fully consider the deal before agreeing to it. This will help you outsmart the salesperson.
- THE PERSISTENCE CLOSE
Salespeople may attempt to appear accommodating and approach a ‘no’ with ‘what can I do to change your mind?’
This tactic is based around not taking no for an answer, and not giving up on a sale immediately. Although to a customer it could come across as flexibility this sales technique is attempting to catch you out and change your answer.
Another thing to consider is the illegitimacy of verbal contracts. A salesperson could agree to a price reduction face-to-face, but when your bill comes in there is not guarantee this will be ratified. This marketing technique is one fuelled by desperation, and not honour. There is no incentive for the adjustments made to be actually implemented after you’ve already signed the contract.
HOW TO HANDLE
This sales technique is banking on you being open to changing your mind. If you’ve considered the deal and made your decision on the offer, remember your resolve and stick with a firm no. A salesperson will be watching for any wavering on your opinion to swoop in and offer a verbal contract adjustment. If you were confident in your conclusion, remember that when you’re challenged on it.
- THE TAKE-AWAY
This is one of the most aggressive closing strategies. It is often implemented right at the end of a sales process when a customer has considered their options but are hesitant to close the deal.
With this strategy salespeople are playing on the fear that you will lose more by not signing the deal.
This is a method where things are taken away from the deal, for a cheaper alternative, which makes you believe the original deal is the best option. This could include offering you a cheaper price, but including less, or offering a postponed sign-up which results in benefits being taken away from the deal.
The sales tactic is aggressive and intimidating which can 1) make it difficult to get out of and 2) a hard one to detect because it must be practiced well. A salesperson conducting this tactic will be confident and well-versed in it, making it difficult to notice.
HOW TO HANDLE
This sales tactic works by making you scared you’re going to put yourself in a less financially sound position by not agreeing to the deal. It is one of the most difficult tactics to face.
The key is to remember you can walk away. You are neve obliged to stay in an uncomfortable situation and if a salesperson is intimidating you then, even if their deal could make you a little better off, it is not something you need to endure.
The salesperson makes you think you’re stuck – both between the deals and in the conversation.
Keep it in mind that you have the right to just walk away from a deal, whether it is in person or not. Put down the phone, close a tab, or turn and walk in the other direction if a situation is making you uncomfortable.
- Illegal Sales Techniques
Whilst some practice is just unethical, some sales practices are against the law. It is important to keep an eye out for illegal conduct and protect yourself from it.
If you’re a micro or domestic business, you can contact the Ombudsman for energy or communication supplier problems. The Ombudsman can help you file a complaint against a supplier and inform you of what malpractice may look like. This will also help protect other customers against malpractice.
Generally, you can contact Citizens Advice for how to report to Trading Standards.
To find out more about the law surrounding marketing and advertising, click here.
Below are some of the main illegal sales techniques:
- BUYING BLINDLY
This is often seen in cold-calling when salespeople neglect to provide sufficient information to the would-be-customer.
- USING MANIPULATIVE TALK
Wolf of Wall Street line “I’m sure you didn’t get where you are today by consulting with your wife on everyday decisions” is an example of when a salesperson is manipulating a customer into committing to a deal by playing on their ego.
- INFLATING PAST PERFORMANCE
A salesperson may make misleading claims about their track record or reputation. The incentive for this is to gain a would-be client’s confidence in their services.
These claims are hard to verify as you may not be aware of the company’s reputation. For this reason, inflation is most dangerous over the phone as there is even more anonymity attributed to those interactions.
The untrue statement of a material fact when selling is illegal, too.