The Psychology of Selling and How to Resist It
Have you ever gotten an invitation to a “free” lunch, where the only qualification is that you sit through a “brief” presentation? This scenario is probably the purest form of the hard sell. Knowing how to resist the hard sell could save you tons of money on things you don’t really need in the first place. Knowing how to use the hard sell could make you much more employable. Either way, it seems like a good thing for you to know about, and we’re happy to tell you.
The concept of selling runs the gamut from simply providing access for someone to buy something to hardcore psychological manipulation. The former doesn’t happen much. The latter is what you are most likely to come across in any sales environment.
It is usually broken into two types of selling; soft selling and hard selling. To be clear, just because soft selling doesn’t sound as aggressive as hard selling doesn’t make it any less manipulative.
The art of the soft sell is to make it seem like you aren’t selling at all. You are simply meeting the need of a friend. You just so happen to have a product that can solve their problem, the fact that money will be changing hands is a secondary concern.
Soft selling takes more time, but it is more likely to be successful. You can’t just pitch a room of people and hope for the best. You have to build relationships with your client base. Depending on your product soft selling may or may not be feasible.
The hard sell is all about throwing the customer off their game.
“Buy this now, because it’s the best thing in the world! If you get it today, we’ll take 25% off! If you buy 3, we’ll pay the tax! If you don’t buy it right now, we’re going to launch it into the sun!”
A hard seller doesn’t want you to have time to mull the decision over because they realize that if you did, you’d realize you probably don’t actually want what they are selling.
Natural charisma is obviously a major plus for a salesperson. However, the basic manipulations they employ are really more learned skills than innate salesmanship. Let’s go over a few.
Something for Something: This is your free lunch or trip situation. Sometimes it’s a free gift with purchase. The salesperson is giving you something and it’s natural for you to feel like you should give them something in return; if only to be polite.
“They provided this really nice lunch, and worked really hard on their presentation. The least you can do is consider making a purchase.”
Resist this urge. You owe them nothing, and you’ve probably already given them some of your time.
Expert Advice: This is usually more of a hard sell tactic. A salesperson will act as an authority on a subject pertaining to their product. They will usually try to subtly belittle you for not knowing about something or other in an attempt to make themselves seem more (for lack of a better term) woke.
“Who are you to go against the advice of someone so ‘in the know’? If they say you should buy it, you should buy it. Be ahead of the curve.”
Always consider the source of the information you’re getting. It will always be to their benefit. Sometimes it will be distorted in their favor. Sometimes it will just be flat out lies.
Fear of Loss: This is another classic hard sell tactic. The sequence of events will usually be a presentation about how good the product is to get you interested. That will be followed by an unsavory reveal of the price of the product, designed to give you second thoughts. That way, when they start telling you about all the discounts and special deals they can give you, you feel like you are really getting over and that they are doing you a solid. The only problem is, to get all of those discounts; you have to buy the product right now.
“Don’t think about it, don’t talk it over with loved ones, or friends, or anyone but me. If you don’t get it right now, you’ll pay full price later, like a jabroni.”
This type of manipulation plays on your FOMO (fear of missing out). It also works in concert with all of the other manipulations currently at work on you. It’s usually the closer, in fact. It sells the deal more than the product. It’s difficult to suggest countermeasures for fear of loss because it’s designed to put pressure on you that will keep you from thinking rationally. The only foolproof way is to make yourself an automatic ‘No’ and turn your brain off to being sold anything you didn’t already specifically want…Which isn’t a bad policy for saving money.