Sales and marketing, Content, Channel markets

An Alternative To High Pressure Selling

Author: David Brock, president, Partners in Excellence
Author: David Brock

We’ve all been subjected to high pressure selling tactics. We see various forms of these high pressure or manipulative tactics, whether it’s the high pressure sales person focused on pitching products, the sales person that keeps moving the focus back to them and what they want to achieve, incentives to “buy now,” whether they are offered in forms of scarcity or a disappearing discount, and the list of tactics can go on and on.

As customers, we resent those techniques used on us. Our customers resent it when they perceive pressure from sales people trying to convince them to buy.

We also know these tactics don’t work very well. Yes, some customers respond–particularly to discounting, but they probably were going to buy anyway, so they are just taking advantage of our desperation by getting what they already wanted at a cheaper price.

Most customers protect themselves from these techniques simply by not responding, doing everything they can to avoid a sales person’s call. They will seek every alternative to learn and educate themselves (often making serious mistakes in their buying), engaging sales people in the very last part of their buying journey.

It’s a terribly vicious circle.  Sales people get more aggressive and obnoxious in their tactics, customers do everything they can to avoid sales people, in frustration sales people ratchet up these terrible approaches….. and we continue to drive bigger wedges between us and the customer.

Suspending your judgment about these tactics, when you look at it, it’s really a lot of hard work. It isn’t easy to continue to do these high pressure approaches at ever escalating volumes. It takes huge amounts of time/effort and really thick skin for a pretty bad return on that effort.

Smarter Approaches to Sales

As you think about it, these approaches don’t make much sense, particularly when there are easier approaches to accelerating the customer commitment and decision making process. Approaches that, in fact, make customers wildly enthusiastic.

Since it seems to be fashionable to put labels to these things, rather than High Pressure Selling, what if we considered the idea of High Urgency Buying?

High Urgency Buying is simply working with the customer to create a high sense of urgency and commitment within the buying group to solve their problem as quickly as possible.

There are all sorts of things that create a compelling sense of urgency to buy. Some of the obvious ones are Trigger Events. Things like Y2K, or regulatory/compliance requirements create a date by which the customer must have a solution in place. These are typically external and imposed on the customer. But they don’t come around that often.  And I’m really not hanging around until Y3K.

Finding Customers Who Want to Take Action

There are other things that compel a customer to take action. They may need to make choices about a new product or new manufacturing capability to produce products for the Christmas Shopping Season. If they miss critical deadlines, they miss a year of selling/revenue. These are often called “Windows Of Opportunity.”  Missing them is generally irrecoverable.

There are so many ways to create high urgency with the customer. Identify opportunities they may be missing, opportunities to improve their own internal operations, opportunities to better serve their customers, opportunities to grow, things that may threaten their ability to grow or compete.

At the individual level, there are many opportunities to create high urgency with the customer. Opportunities to succeed and get noticed, to get a promotion/raise/recognition, to free up time so they can focus on other things–maybe their families, to simplify and reduce overload/overwhelm.

High Urgency Buying is all about the customer. If the customer feels any pressure at all, it’s self imposed by the desire to move forward as quickly as possible. Once you and the customer have identified a compelling need to change, the process becomes much easier and the customer, rather than avoiding us, looks to us for leadership and help in addressing these opportunities.

It’s such an easy shift, one wonders why we continue to be so focused on high pressure approaches.

David Brock is president of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a management consulting firm focused on sales productivity, channel development, strategic alliances and more. Read more blogs from Brock here.