Why the “Hard Sell” Is DEAD in 2022

The idea of the “hard sell” may conjure images of sleazy used-car salesmen or door-to-door vacuum salesman from the ‘50s. unfortunately, the hard sell still exists in modern day, and often uses heavy-handed and dishonest tactics to close the deal.

This is not only unethical but sets a business up for failure. Customers should never be bullied or coerced into buying a product that they don’t want. You may make the sale now, but the damage to your brand’s customer service and reputation will follow you long after the revenue is gone.

The hard sell is dead in 2022. So, what’s replacing it?

Why the Hard Sell Was Once Successful

Hard selling may seem uncomfortable and unpleasant now, but it was once the commonplace method of selling products and getting short-term results to hit sales numbers. Intimidating, double-speak, and other tactics essentially force customers into buying something.

On the salesperson’s end, it doesn’t matter if the customer is happy as long as they made the sale – which is motivated by their own fear of their boss and not making their commission.

This strategy is clearly shortsighted and has many negatives, including:

Low-Quality Sales

Modern marketing is centered around targeting customers who want or may want a product. Hard selling is the opposite, since it typically involves forcing or coercing customers into buying something they neither want nor need. Once the pressure of the sales process is over, customers may be left feeling buyer’s remorse and with a negative opinion of the company.

Dissatisfied Customers

The opinion of the customer lasts much longer than the revenue from the sale and the moment of satisfaction that comes from closing the deal. Customers with an unpleasant experience and products or services they don’t want are not only unlikely to make a second purchase, but they may go as far as canceling the transaction or returning the product. There goes the customer, their money, and any chance of future purchases.

Unhappy Salespeople

The hard sell is usually motivated by fear, whether of missing out on commissions and incentives, losing a job, or other consequences. This creates a highly competitive environment with stressed-out salespeople and a lot of cutting corners.

Most people are only comfortable in this type of environment if they like the money they gain from high commissions, no matter how they come about them, they really need a job, or they thrive in high-pressure, chaotic environments.

Most people aren’t successful or comfortable selling products they don’t believe in or pushing products and services on customers who aren’t interested. They may stick around for a while, but they’ll be searching for other job opportunities that satisfy their needs.

Social Media and the Death of the Hard Sell

Social media brought up numerous shifts in the marketing and business world. As the platforms became more mainstream and popular, consumers saw it as an opportunity to connect with brands and conduct more research about the brands they buy from.

Over time, that connection fueled other trends, including savvy consumers who conduct plenty of research before making a purchase, an emphasis on brand transparency and social responsibility, and non-traditional marketing tactics like influencer marketing.

The hard sell is about getting right to the point with the message of the product or service. Consumers on social media aren’t looking for that type of marketing. They want soft selling, which involves a softer approach that focuses on building relationships, instilling trust, and nurturing the community and its audience.

In addition, consumers follow brands on social media to see what content they post and what they have to share, similar to subscribing to an email list. Most people wouldn’t subscribe to an email newsletter that was entirely focused on the product and its benefits, so naturally, they don’t want to see that on social media.

The main content on social media should be focused around building a community and offering valuable information that helps the audience, even if it isn’t directly about the product or the brand. These tactics can guide them into the sales funnel for when they’re ready to make the purchase, but they do so willingly. They come to you – not the other way around.

What’s more, social media algorithms are designed to provide the best experience for the user, not the brand. Preference goes to the content that performs well – that is, content that gets good engagement and interest (among other factors).

Components of the Soft Sell

Avoiding the hard sell is crucial in 2022. Replace it with these soft-sell tactics:

  • Offer value to the audience with informative, entertaining, or educational information related to your industry.
  • Show, don’t tell. Your customers are there to learn about you, but you can’t spend the whole time bragging about your brad and products. Instead, brag using social proof, such as video testimonials, customer photos, and influencer marketing partnerships.
  • Engage with your audience by asking questions, requesting feedback, and responding to inquiries and comments. Leverage user-generated content to add more authenticity and make it more about the audience as a community.

Adopt the Soft Sell for More Success in 2022

Pushy, aggressive sales tactics are a product of the past. Modern consumers want engagement, community, and soft-sell tactics that nurture relationships and put them in control of their own purchasing decisions.