Are Salespeople Still Using the Hard Sell?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 @ 09:03 AM


When you hear a phrase like the hard sell, do you instantly think of car salespeople?  Insurance?  Replacement windows?  No offense intended to those of you in one of those three industries!

While someone's reference to a hard sell may differ, the perception of the hard sell is fairly universal.   After prospects state an objection, say they're not interested, or tell the salesperson, "No," prospects tend to raise their resistance.  Most salespeople have been trained to handle these objections and put-offs and therein lies the problem.  There are proper and effective ways to handle these, and there are improper and ineffective ways to handle these.  When you use the wrong approach it will appear to the prospect as if you are using the hard sell and their resistance will go up even further.

Most salespeople think that the hard sell consists of arm-wrestling, hammering or pressuring their prospect.  While all three of those approaches are variations of the hard sell, most salespeople overcompensate so much that they wouldn't be caught dead using them.  Instead, salespeople are guilty of the hard sell when they aren't aware of it.  All it takes to be perceived of using the hard sell is to attempt any of the following ten things in response to a prospect's increased resistance:

  1. Recite talking points
  2. Attempt to overcome an objection
  3. Share product features
  4. Explain the benefits
  5. Tout their capabilities
  6. Use logic to make a point
  7. Make the prospect wrong
  8. Try to close after a prospect says, "No" or "Maybe."
  9. Attempt to continue the conversation after hearing, "Not interested" or "We're all set."
  10. Fail to listen to the prospect and continue talking instead

That's right, most of you, without realizing it, are guilty of what you try so hard to avoid, the hard sell.  It's not so much that you are using the hard sell, as it is your prospect perceives it as the hard sell.

So what can you do instead?

Lower. Their. Resistance.  Watch this very short video about lowering resistance.


Lowering resistance must always be your first order of business.  


Phrases like, "You're right," "I understand," "I agree," "Makes sense," and "Of course" all work fairly well.  And then you should ask permission to ask a question.  Just make sure that you don't do any of the ten things I listed above!

The actual question you ask is less important than whether or not you ask one.  Your question should be based on something you just heard, like, "You just said that you don't think this is something that you need. Can you tell me why you feel that way?"

Managing and recovering from resistance is the real art of selling. 

I just released my online, self-directed, on-demand, advanced selling skills program featuring nearly 30 lessons with recorded, actual role-plays that demonstrate the most difficult selling scenarios of all - the art of selling.  Subscribe here.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, asking questions, hard selling, advanced selling skills, overcoming objections, online sales training

Top 15 Questions That Prospects Ask Themselves

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 @ 09:09 AM

thoughtsFollowing up yesterday's Moneyball article, here are some more new things for you to think about.  

When your salespeople are in front of or on the phone with prospects, do they ever think in terms of whether their prospects:

  • Want what you're selling?
  • Need what you're selling?
  • Must solve a problem that you can solve?
  • Don't care?

Let's discuss the implications of each:

If your prospects want what you sell, they are asking themselves:

  • Is it practical?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Is the timing right?
  • Is this who I want to buy it from?
  • Is this the one I want?
If your prospects need what you sell, they are asking themselves:
  • Do I want it?
  • Do I need it now?
  • What's it going to cost?
  • Who should I get it from?
If your prospects have a problem that needs to be solved, they are asking themselves:
  • Who can best solve my problem?
  • Who can do it now?
  • Who can do it right - the first time?
  • Who can get it completed quickly?
If your prospects don't care and aren't interested, your salespeople shouldn't be speaking with them.
So there are three possible mindsets that prospects could have when your salespeople are speaking with them that demand three completely different approaches.  Clearly, the scenario where your salespeople can create the most urgency and move the sales process along more quickly is #3.  Do your salespeople execute consultative selling effectively enough to consistently achieve #3?  If they don't, they won't be able to move their prospects into #3 from either #1 or #2, at which point they may be viewed as a commodity or transaction rather than a value added solution.
On top of that, your products and/or services fall into two additional categories, each requiring different approaches:
  1. Why me?  or Why?  If prospects know they will buy (think expiring copier lease) then it's simply a case of your salespeople getting them to choose your company.  Why me?  If prospects weren't aware that they were going to buy (think no money in the budget for the product or service) then it's a case of your salespeople selling them on the concept of buying.  Why?
  2. Through?  or To?  If your salespeople sell through a channel (distributors, VAR's, brokers, dealers, retailers, resellers, etc.) then they are selling through and may have little influence on whether the end-user buys.  In this case they are coaches to their channel.  If your salespeople sell directly to end users then they are in control of their own destiny.
Two questions for you:  Are your salespeople conciously aware of the 3 mindsets and two categories, and have you checked as to whether they have appropriate approaches for each?


One of my articles, Top Ten Reasons for Roller Coaster Sales, was nominated for article of the month.  I only learned about it late last week so there are only 3 days left to vote.  I would appreciate it if you would take 15 seconds to vote here.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales tips, advanced selling skills, top sales articles

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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