The hard sell is an aggressive approach to salesmanship or advertising that uses very direct and forceful selling techniques to get the prospective customer(s) to buy.
I was a victim to the hard sell recently while looking into a membership at a gym here in Chicago. I had just moved to the Windy City and was feeling antsy after an 8-hour drive.
I needed a good sweat.
So, I Googled the closest gym to my flat, slipped on my work-out clothes and was off to inquire about a free membership.
Once I arrived, the fellow at the front desk said he would be more than willing to give me a free week…
If I would sit down with a sales representative first.
I knew what I was getting yanked into. But, on this particular day, I really really wanted to get a work-out in.
So, I agreed to sit down.
The guy selling me on the membership gave me his sales spiel and at the end of it, he hit me with a hard sell…
“Listen, I’m more than happy to give you a 7-day free trial and if you like it you can sign-up for $40/ month. However, if you sign up right now, you will only pay $25/ month.”
I signed up that day.
The good, the bad and the ugly of the hard sell.
Most of what I write about and practice here at Honey Copy could best be categorized as a “soft sell” or taking a longer more thoughtful approach to selling whatever it is you’re selling to your customers.
And, while I would say I’m for the most part against the hard sell, I do think there is a time and place for it.
Being that I don’t practice hard selling at Honey Copy, I conducted an experiment a few weeks back to familiarize myself with the craft (if you can even call it that).
I ran a flash sale on my copywriting guide.
I gave my email list, Sticky Notes, a 48-hour window to pull the trigger and take advantage of a 25% off discount I was running for a limited time only.
While I obviously stayed true to the witty, clever and conversational tone that Honey Copy is known for and wrote the copy in such a way that it didn’t read like a hard sell… a flash sale, in and of itself, is a hard sell.
(Here is the email I sent out announcing the flash sale.)
I’m sure you are wondering… did anyone buy?
During the two days I ran the flash sale, I did $2,667 in sales on the guide.
That’s a nice chunk of change.
However, I did some thinking…
Most weeks, I average around $1,000 in sales on my copywriting guide selling it at full-price and marketing it with a very “take it or leave it” mentality.
In my weekly newsletter, I’ll mention it.
And, I will usually link to it a couple times in my articles.
But, for the most part, the marketing I practice could very much be defined as a soft sell.
If I had to choose between a handful of $2,000-ish flash sales a year and fairly consistent $1,000 sales weeks…
I would always always choose the latter.
This, in my opinion, is one of the key differences between the hard sell and the soft sell.
Hard selling is good for product launches where you need to generate gargantuan sales quickly.
Whereas, soft selling, is ideal for creating a reliable marketing engine that can generate sales for you while you sleep.
Which, speaking of sleep, I think another question us marketers have to ask ourselves is…
Are we selling in a way that allows us to sleep soundly at night?
While I had no trouble hard selling my copywriting guide to my list because I was offering it for 25% less than what dozens of folks are willing to pay for it each week…
I can’t say the success I experienced from my flash sale felt as good as the passive income I generate on a weekly basis.
It felt less genuine to me.
Thoughtful non-greasy ways to hard sell.
With that said, if you are looking to hard sell someone, let’s discuss a few ways you can do so in a thoughtful non-greasy manner…
You can offer the customer a lot of value along with the pressure you are placing on them.
The sales representative at the gym was hard selling me, but he was also offering me real value… because of this, he sold me and I had no resentment towards him because I felt like I was getting a deal.
You can be extremely honest about the sale you are running.
Sense of urgency is a very effective sales method. But, in my opinion, it is unethical if the marketer isn’t sticking to his guns. When I ran my 25% off sale to my list, I said I’d give them 48-hours to enjoy the discount. Once those 48-hours were up, the discount was, too.
You can be extremely polite and personable while still hard selling.
When we think of the hard sell we think of the assholes in the middle of the mall selling face masks out of kiosks.
They’re in your face.
They don’t take “no” for an answer.
They don’t view you as human, but a walking bag of money.
In my opinion, you can hard sell your prospective customers while still being extremely polite and personable.
In the future, while I will utilize hard sells for larger product announcements and launches, I will be sticking primarily to soft selling.
But, I digress.
You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.