What is a 'Hard Sell'

Hard sell refers to an advertising or sales approach that features especially direct and insistent language. A hard sell is designed to get a consumer to purchase a good or service in the short-term, rather than evaluate his or her options and potentially decide to wait on the purchase. It is considered a high-pressure, aggressive technique that has fallen out of favor according to some sales experts.

Breaking Down 'Hard Sell'

Despite the negative perception consumers have of hard sell tactics, they do provide some advantages. For example, the immediacy of the hard sell can be an advantage in dealing with the fact that most people tend to delay purchases and will postpone making decisions even if they involves something that would immediately improve their lives. "Hard sell" as a term saw its first use in the United States in the 1950s to describe sales and advertising practices that are aggressive in nature.

Hard Sell Characteristics

Hard selling may be characterized by various techniques that provoke the consumer, flatter them, play off their fear or their fear of missing out, and attempt to convince them that buying a product will be a smart decision that will improve their lives. A hard sell technique used to sell a car, for example, might focus on the limited availability of the particular model, how other people are waiting to purchase the vehicle and how prices might increase if the consumer walks off the lot. Hard selling is often associated with unscrupulous salespeople, who may attempt to misinform the consumer, withhold information from them, or even lie to them.

Hard Sell vs. Soft Sell

To better understand the hard sell it is helpful to consider the soft cell, which features more subtle language, a consultative tone, and a non-aggressive technique. A soft sell is designed to avoid angering potential customers and pushing them away. It appeals to the emotions of the consumer, attempting to trigger feelings that compel them to make a purchase. The goal is helping the consumer to decide on their own that they need to make a purchase. Because soft selling is a low-pressure sales technique, it may not result in a sale the first time a product is presented. A soft sell may be better for certain goods and services, or certain types of consumers.

Hard Sell Debate

Many sales experts contend that hard selling is counterproductive. It can alienate buyers or make them respond to aggressive tactics with their own aggression. It can also intimidate and scare off prospective buyers, creating negative feelings that make repeat sales less likely. Hard selling allows no time for education and persuasion, and therefore leaves a prospective buyer thinking that they are being dictated to, not being respected, and that it is not really their decision that matters.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Soft Sell

    Soft sell refers to an advertising and sales approach that features ...
  2. Hard Money

    Hard money is an ongoing funding stream versus a one-time grant ...
  3. Hard Dollars

    Hard dollars are fees paid for transacting and research by clients ...
  4. Hard Skills

    Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined ...
  5. Hard Stop

    A hard stop is a price level that, if reached, will trigger an ...
  6. Hard Loan

    A hard loan is foreign loan that must be paid in the currency ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    When to sell a stock

    Buying at the right price determines profit, but selling a stock at the right price locks it in.
  2. Investing

    5 Proven Methods for Selling Stocks

    Discover common techniques can help investors take some of the emotion out of deciding when to sell a stock.
  3. Investing

    Selling a Stock: When Is the Right Time?

    Having a plan for when to sell a stock is a crucial part of investing.
  4. Investing

    4 Common Sales Techniques People Fall For

    Once you can see through these sales pitches, it will be easier for you to make an objective decision about the worthiness of any potential purchase.
  5. Small Business

    7 steps to selling your small business

    Selling your small business is often a complex venture. These seven considerations can help you build a solid plan for profit and lead to success.
  6. Insights

    AB InBev Splashes Into the Hard Seltzer Fad

    We've had the hard tea craze, then hard cider, and most recently, hard soda. So it was only a matter of time before hard water became a thing. Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) recently said ...
  7. Investing

    The Sales Commission Dilemma

    These professionals' interests may not always align with your own. Find out how to protect yourself.
  8. Investing

    How To Talk Like An Investor

    Learn the lingo to start talking like an informed investor and make wise investment decisions in financial markets. Find out terms used in stock trading.
  9. Managing Wealth

    Why The First $1 Million Is The Hardest

    It may be trite, but it's true - there are many obstacles to building the first $1 million of wealth.
  10. Investing

    The Art Of Selling A Losing Position

    Knowing whether to sell or to hold is tough. And no rule fits all. Find out what to consider.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Hard and soft goods in the retail sector

    Understand the difference between hardlines and softlines offered by various retailers. Find out about the characteristics ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center