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Understanding High-Pressure Sales Tactics: When & How to Deploy Them

Discover the impact of high-pressure sales tactics and how to avoid them. Learn how to navigate sales situations confidently and make informed decisions in our insightful blog.

Rose McMillan · November 16, 2023
Understanding High-Pressure Sales Tactics: When & How to Deploy Them

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Hard selling isn’t for everyone. Everyone has faced a hard sell in their lives before and although some people prefer a soft sales approach, certain individuals prefer a high-pressure sale.

It can be thrilling, save time, and result in satisfied customers. Nevertheless, there are numerous sales executives — probably ones in your sales team — who try to avoid high-pressure sales tactics if they possibly can. Some sales reps just don't feel comfortable with hard sales.

It's easy to understand why given that high-pressure sales tactics have some negative connotations. Some high pressure tactics can be unethical, and depending on your jurisdiction, illegal. Therefore, you should know exactly what's allowed before deploying any high-pressure sales methods.

In this article, you'll learn about high-pressure sales tactics, including when to use them and when to avoid them. You'll also find out the advantages of using these sorts of sales techniques, along with some useful examples of high-pressure selling.

What are high-pressure sales tactics?

High-pressure sales tactics are defined as a series of selling methods where a sales rep attempts to pressure a customer into making a purchase. They do so by taking control of their interactions.

No coercion or intimidation of the customer is implied by using high-pressure selling methods. Instead, the idea is to move from initial contact to closure with as few intermediary steps as possible.

What the salesperson should be doing is using their personality to keep proceeding with a sale. Even if the prospect appears to be uninterested or says they don't want to buy.

There are a number of tried-and-tested high-pressure sales tactics that you can use. But they’re not always successful. Bear in mind that just because you adopt a high-pressure method of selling, doesn't mean you'll always close a deal. The point is that you're more likely to close — in certain situations — if you go for a hard sale over a soft one.

For example, if you're selling to someone who's on a deadline, a soft sales approach likely won't work. This is because there isn't enough time to build the necessary trust. In such cases, pressuring the customer to make a purchasing decision without browbeating them to do so may likely be your best route to success.

When is using high-pressure sales tactics a good idea?

Selling with high-pressure methods isn't always the right thing to do. However, if the lead is short on time, you're going to have to sell fast. Here, a high-pressure sales tactic is the best option. But time-limiting factors are only one of the reasons why you might want your sales staff to utilize harder approaches to making sales.

High-pressure sales tactics can also help when you're dealing with a junior decision-maker. If your previous attempts at selling to a company's top buyer haven't worked, then try a hard sale with a less senior member of staff. This way, you'll be able to get your target company to at least sample your goods and services, allowing you a new entry point when dealing with future sales objections.

If you're dealing with someone who already has a supplier or product they're happy with, then it can also be useful to deploy high-pressure sales tactics. A soft sell isn't likely to make them switch unless, at some unknown point down the line, their preferred supplier lets them down. This type of hard sale would focus on all the negative outcomes — real and potential — that might arise from sticking with your competitor.

High-pressure sales tactics are also good for passing trade and customers that you likely won’t see again. In this instance, there isn't any particular need to stick with a softer sale. A hard sale in this scenario might involve special deals, one-time-only promotions, and other eye-catching one-off publicity to influence the customer into making a decision to buy without delay.

How to use high-pressure sales techniques

High-pressure sales can work in plenty of different sales environments and situations. In some cases, using them can be opportunistic and not part of a wider strategy. Some sales executives know when it's the right moment to use a hard sell and, conversely, when a softer approach is likely to work.

Note that high-pressure sales techniques are suitable in both B2C and B2B settings. Similar methods should be used for both because hard selling is all about persistently persuading the person they're selling to, so they can strike a deal in the fastest time possible.

Let's examine some of the most common high-pressure sales tactics in use today.

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Pitch at any opportunity

One of the most straightforward differences between a soft and hard sell is when it's deemed appropriate to pitch a sale. Typically, soft salespeople make an introduction and have a little getting-to-know-you session before asking whether it would be a good time to pitch a service or product.

A high-pressure sales tactic, on the other hand, means not waiting. From initial eye contact with a prospect, you should simply launch into a short pitch and keep going. Hard salespeople take every opportunity they can to pitch.

Catastrophize inaction

One of the main objections people have to sales propositions is that they don't have the time to look into their options. If so, you could adopt a high pressure tactic by pointing out that your prospect can't afford to wait.

Inaction would lead to disastrous consequences that could harm their business success or even land them in trouble with their employer. As soon as your prospect has engaged with the potential downsides of not giving you attention, start your pitch.

Make promises

Misselling is a problem and should play no part in a sales pitch, hard or soft. That said, high-pressure sales tactics demand that you make claims about your product or service that only highlight the bright side.

There may not be time for the customer to sample your products or services, so you need to promise that they will deliver.

Leverage fear

Fear-based selling sounds negative, but it often produces positive results. When you tell someone they're missing out by not listening to your pitch, what you're really saying is that they could be making a big mistake.

Salespeople can utilize this negative emotion to their advantage to ensure their prospect knows there's something to be afraid of if they don't pay attention. Perhaps their boss would like them to know all about the options they could be benefiting from. Alternatively, suggest that if they stick with what they have, their competitors will gain an edge by adopting your solution.

Assume a deal has been reached

A common high-pressure sales tactic is to make the assumption early on that the prospect has already agreed to a sale. You could start wrapping up a product or placing items into carrier bags. If your sale involves the customer signing, then get the paperwork out and place it in front of them.

Equally, if you're employing an upselling strategy, why not assume that the customer has already bought into the idea of purchasing the related item you're pushing? A customer may feel caught up in the whole situation and agree to the purchase. That said, if someone really doesn't want to buy, then they don't have to, of course.

Push urgency

Let your prospects know that you have limited stock or that a failure to buy today could mean a lengthy delay. Doing so not only implies that your products and services are in demand but that they could be missing out by not placing an order.

Don't place a time limit on your hard sell, or your prospect may simply run the clock down until you move on. Instead, keep mentioning that now is the right time to make a positive purchasing decision.

Highlight special promotions

Finally, high-pressure sales tactics often come into their own when you have a sale running. Stock clearances or seasonal promotions are ideal for high-pressure selling techniques.

Sending promotional emails to your customers and leads using the language of high-pressure sales is a smart move. It can generate plenty of inbound sales inquiries during a promotional period and boost sales.

When should you avoid high-pressure sales tactics?

Not every situation is right for a hard sell. Experienced sales reps know when it's right to proceed with a soft rather than a high-pressure selling method. Here are some key examples of when you should think twice before utilizing high-pressure sales tactics.

Relationship building

If you've carefully qualified your prospects and there’s a high chance that the business or person will become a repeat customer, then it's better to opt for a softer sales technique.

You still might need a hard sales method to get past the initial contact to reach the ultimate decision-maker. Nevertheless, if you want to build a long-lasting relationship with a client who may potentially place orders in the future, try a softer angle.

When credit is offered as standard

If you operate in a B2B market, then you will likely offer credit and invoice clients for some, if not all, of the products sold or services rendered. If you've pressured your prospect into placing an order, then your sale could turn into a bad debt if the company you've sold to refuses to pay.

Even if you were to pursue legal action, the costs involved would often make the sale unprofitable. Try to limit hard sales techniques to situations where payments — at least down payments — are made upfront.

Ethical reasons

Some people don't have the mental capacity to cope with a hard sell. For ethical reasons, it isn't a good idea to sell to members of the public who are susceptible to social pressure or overbearing language. In business, you might also want to reconsider hard selling to organizations that may not be able to afford the products and services you sell, such as religious communities, charities, or non-governmental organizations.

If you think your company's reputation might be on the line following a successful hard sell, then it's probably better to take a softer, more ethical approach.

Manage hard sales operations with customer relationship management software

Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps all types of businesses, from startups to large-scale growth enterprises. Capsule CRM is tailor-made for sales-driven organizations. You can use it for project management purposes or to keep tabs on all of your contacts, including those you've used high-pressure sales tactics on before and those that you think demand a softer sell.

Discover how your business could benefit from a dedicated CRM that assists sales teams working in both hard and soft sales environments by taking advantage of Capsule's 14-day free trial.

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