Last Updated: 1/10/2022
Hi Ladies and Gents,
Welcome to another rousing Monday here at Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises – 10 days into 2022 and still going strong! As the title clearly spells out, today’s topic is sales – in particular, what not to do in sales. And I will tell you what, one thing I am very thankful for is every time I don’t have to interact with an annoying, pushy salesperson. But before we jump into things, I’d like to make it clear that today’s post is not about “bashing salespeople,” in fact quite the contrary! Many of the world’s largest fortunes have been made in sales of one kind or another, and those mega-millionaires who have reaped such rewards aren’t necessarily “bad people” just because they spent their time selling things to people (well, ok, fine, some of them might be on the “unsavory character” side, but not all of them, and not just because they sold things, is my point). The point is, selling things and salespeople are not “bad” in and of themselves; but, just like anything in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about selling. No one likes a “hard seller” type of salesperson, let’s be honest – that annoying, pesky nuisance of a person who tries relentlessly to badger and push you into buying something that you know is way overpriced or that you don’t even want or need. Sure, there are some smooth – and, dare I even say, good – salespeople who have perfected a smooth and polished “harder” type of approach; but, honestly even these salespeople wouldn’t be my first choice of sellers to interact with. No one wants to be hounded into buying something, even if it is something he or she really wants, or maybe even needs. People will be much more likely to buy what you have to offer – and keep coming back to you for future purchase – if you are honest and transparent about your offer in its entirety, and if you focus on building a trusting relationship with your potential buyer as opposed to focusing on “just selling” him or her something.
Let me give a personal example to illustrate what I am talking about:
When my wife was pregnant with our youngest son, she shopped around a bit for a photography outfit she was happy with to get maternity photos taken at. After intensive looking (she is a very savvy consumer, particularly of services), she found one that looked worthy of her expectations on paper and she felt was worth trying out; so, she made an appointment and our family was all down at the photographer’s storefront on the appointed day for our photoshoot, which consisted of some shots of just my wife and some shots with other family members in them as well. The pictures were great and the whole experience proved itself to be wonderful! In the end, we were all happy. This photography business had just won itself a new family of loyal customers...or had it?!
Fast forward to a month after our youngest son’s birth...
When we had gotten the original maternity photos taken, the photography shop had let us know that they could happily do a FREE One Month Baby Photo Shoot at our residence – they would actually take the time to come out to us and do it! Cool, we thought! We liked the Maternity Shoot, were generally quite happy with the business and their services (so far) – so, “Sweet!” we thought! “Yes, we’ll take the free One-Month shoot,” we said.
We arranged for the shoot on our son’s actual one month birthday itself, and the crew showed up to our apartment an hour late. This was even after they had called and said they were running “20 minutes late, sorry!” Anyway, this was mildly annoying, but when they finally did show up – members of the same photography enterprise we were growing to love and trust – we thought, “Eh, whatever, it’s not the end of the world, it is a free session, no biggie.” The crew made a very professional grand entrance into our apartment and flattered us with their professional demeanor, and their “We’re very sorry for showing up late, let’s get right down to business and not waste any more time” type of attitude. Ok, we were willing to forgive them...at least for that.
Now, of course, with a professional crew as such coming to our private residence, one has to assume there will be some sales pitches thrown – of course! That’s pretty much a given! And that’s fair game. Sure enough, as the crew got busy preparing for the shoot in our bedroom, they wasted no time in letting us know right away that they were here for the free One Month Baby Shoot, which would be just a few different poses and costumes with the baby, but we could turn it into a bigger session and involve the whole family for a fee. No big deal and fair enough. We said we were not interested – and we were not – but would it be ok if big brother got in on a few of the free pictures. Sure, they said. That would be just fine. Then they mentioned another combo we could buy, for a bigger family session right now and another shoot at the baby’s 100-day birthday. “No thank you,” we said, although we liked this photography company, so we did say that we might consider a stand-alone photoshoot on the 100-day birthday, but we’d talk about that later (not today). Right now, we were just looking to get the free One Month Baby Shoot as promised, and grateful that such a thing was even offered! Ok, fine, they shut their mouths and went happily about their business – for the time being at least.
The shoot lasted several hours and the crew was VERY professional the whole time. I even wound up complimenting the lead photographer’s assistant (who was also the sales rep with the crew that day) that she must be a licensed nurse in addition to her job with this photography company, because she was so good with our tiny baby son – handling him so gently and professionally for the shooting and everything. They even let big brother get in on some pictures as negotiated without any question and it was a very clean, crisp, professional experience right up until the end...and then everything went to Hell in a handbasket!
At the very end of our session, when we were choosing the “5 best” free pictures we wanted, the lead assistant, who was also the saleswoman for that crew, started in on the “hard sell” – and she pushed HARD, detailing all the other combo packages we could get, and “why” we should get them, and pointed out that we “only get 5 free pictures, but could get more right now if we buy them!” Again, as mentioned, we were expecting some kind of selling; but what could have been a polite “fair mention” pitch at the end of the session, turned into a nightmare. The sales rep could have said something like: “You can buy more pictures today if you want, and don’t forget the other packages we offer – here’s our brochure in case you want another copy or one for a friend. I particularly recommend this package – it’s a great deal. Have a great evening. Thank you so much for hosting us today in your home! We hope you enjoyed your free one month shoot today and we hope to see you again at our shop in the future! XYZ Photography FOREVER!” But instead, she would up turning it into a session of trying to twist our arms and badger us into buying at least SOMETHING from her before she would dare to leave our apartment! We did not cave, and we wound up kicking the crew out – the same crew we had welcomed into our home just a few hours prior with open arms – in haste and with somewhat of a bitter taste in our mouths. Needless to say, we also “un-forgave” them for initially being late, if that’s even a word!
The funny thing about this whole situation that still has me laughing is that the saleswoman tried twisting our arms with hard sales when she didn’t have to! And she turned already happy customers who were on the verge of becoming very loyal customers away in disgust. My wife and I debriefed the experience with each other extensively after the crew left. We both agreed that if the crew had shown up – even late as they were – with smiles on their faces, done the free one month shoot and delivered it nicely to us as promised, and made to leave with smiles on their faces and well-wishes to see us again and do more paying business with us in the future (with some light selling and encouragement to buy thrown in there, of course - that's only fair), we would have purchased a few of the other pictures that they said we could have purchased (in addition to the “free 5”), because there were a few others we really liked and would have been ok with buying (had their sales attitude been better), and there is a good chance also that we would have even signed up for 100-day photo shoot right then and there, or at least had a serious conversation about it (we were already thinking doing the 100 day shoot anyway, to be honest, before the crew even came to our apartment that day and started pushing it so hard!).
If the crew had just shown up that day on our son’s 1 month birthday, worked their magic, delivered their free product as promised (with some light self-promotions of their business, of course, that’s fair!), and left happily, my wife and I would be telling a different story right now! WE would be doing free promotionals for that photography business amongst our friends and contacts!!! We were ALREADY happy with the maternity shoot several months earlier – this free 1-month shoot was like the icing on the cake and the cherry on top. “Hey, you know, we had this great maternity photoshoot done at XYZ Photography! They even came to our apartment for free on our son’s one month birthday and did a free mini-shoot just for him! We highly recommend this top-notch enterprise if you are looking for a great experience with maternity/kids/family photoshoots! They’re awesome!” That COULD HAVE BEEN the narrative, but, instead, the memory that we were left with of them – after one and a half nice experiences – was their pushy sales tactics at the end, which did NOT put us in the mood to want to continue doing business with them, which we had actually wanted to do before they started in on the hard sales!
My point, like I said at the beginning, for all you entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other business people out their reading this, be transparent with what you have to offer and build trust. If a customer/client already had a great experience with you, that experience will continue to sell your business to the customer/client for a good long while to come without the need for you to step in with any hard selling.
If you are offering a free gift to your loyal customers, do so with pride and professionalism, and don’t try to push a bunch of your other offers down their throat at the same time. Sure, of course you can – AND IT IS FAIR GAME TO – mention other things you offer at such a point in time and even lightly push them...you are doing business, after all, and you want your customers to buy more! But as soon as you get really pushy and start breaking fingers and twisting arms (even figuratively), the customer/client will get antsy and uncomfortable.
There is no need to “hard sell” your good(s) or service(s) to someone who has already done business with you in the past and is happy with what you have to offer anyway – those are your happy customers who will keep coming back for more as long as you keep delivering what they want (and it is not your arm-twisting hard sales speeches that they want!). And, may I leave you with this: if you feel the need to “hard sell” your offerings to new targets, well, then, it might be a good idea to rethink exactly what it is you are selling and why you are so convinced it needs to be sold with an arm-twisting hard sell approach in order to get someone to purchase it the first place. A commercially viable product that is going to sell well should not need hard selling to get it to sell – such a product should sell itself, with, perhaps, some guidance and coaching from you as the salesperson/promoter.
That’s all for today, folks.
Better life, better business, better you!
Ideas, inspiration, opportunity,
Andreas Philip Gross Enterprises
Washington State Certified K-8 Educator, K-12 International Education Consultant, Professional Coach, Proofreader/Editor, Affiliate Marketer, Popsicle Stick Crafter, Print-on-Demand Products Designer, and Webmaster
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