“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
Perhaps it’s because I’m an introvert, or a woman or one who puts more stock in primary research than secondary – I don’t know – but I’ve never found the hard sell to be effective at attracting the type of clients I want to work with (or sell to).
I’ll admit it. I’m a contrarian. I tend to side with the underdog. When someone is absolute (or defensive) in their conviction I think Hamlet (“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”). Obvious isn’t – usually I need to dig a little deeper to discover what’s really going on. I’m all kinds of shades of grey so find black and white thinkers challenging.
Today’s hard sell online marketing tactics aren’t new
Twenty-five years ago when I started Fulcrum Communications, pyramid to selling was the rage (hi, how are you; let me tell you about my product/service; sell, sell, sell, close, close, close, close). Manipulative selling became so pervasive shortly after I arrived on the marketing scene, the FTC was compelled to step in with what became commonly known as the buyer’s remorse law.
An inverted pyramid made more sense to me. Spend majority time discussing the needs and challenges of the prospect before suggesting solutions (or recommending a better provider).
Being obnoxious seems to be back in vogue as a sales tactic with online ‘gurus’ (my eyes roll when I see this self-proclaimed status). It seems if you don’t take out the hammer (or two-by-four) to make your point, redundantly, you’ll be belittled for failing to reach sales potential.
It seems each week, I receive hundreds (and hundreds) of e-mails from a primary provider and all his affiliates selling a product (with dozens coming from each in the days leading to the ‘closing date’) reminding me to buy before it’s too late.
Granted, my short-term memory isn’t was it used to be, but really, do you think I’m going to be more compelled to go grab your $10K worth of free incentives (right) in the 50th message than I was on the 3rd? Nope – my opt-in to your list because I was interested morphed to an opt-out. If you think I’m that dumb (or time-rich to continue opening and reading all you send me to try to find a gem), we’re probably not a good fit.
That said, I’m seeing more small business owners previously committed to building relationship-oriented offerings shift to a hard sell approach in every blog post and/or newsletter.
Is this a turn off for you too? A follow for me means I’ve already spent some time understanding what you offer and have an interest in buying. Being accosted with a pitch on everything you send to me undermines your good will claim and my desire to continue reading. It shatters trust when what you say isn’t reflected in what you do.
Subtle selling works better for relationship businesses
Are there case studies and statistics that prove the hard sell works? Sure there are. It does. But is that who you are?
For decades, studies have proven a call to action (telling readers what you want them to do) sells more – to a point. Today’s over the top approach illustrates people don’t get the notion of building trust. Remember getting newsletters sent to your home for free. Publishers didn’t sell in every article then (when costs were high with printing and postage) and you shouldn’t be doing so with every message you cast out either
Sales have always come best for the little guy with relationship building. You don’t achieve that by making readers (or listeners, or viewers) stiffen their back knowing every message is going to involve a self-serving feature.
Maybe I’m different, but I grow weary of messages from a source I know is always winding up for the pitch. I’ll trust you more and like you better if you let me appreciate what you’re sharing. In more cases than not, I’ll buy from you if given the chance to make that decision without feeling accosted.
Manipulate selling has always worked in the short-term. You’d think by now people would have realized goodwill is more important in sustaining a business. No one likes feeling bullied into a purchase. Perhaps I’m more subtle than I should be about broadcasting sales messages, but there’s a greater value in repeat and referral business than there is with a strategy that requires one to always be chasing the next new prospect (or client) because they alienated the last.