What is 'Over-Selling'

Over-selling occurs when a salesperson continues their sales pitch after the customer has already decided to purchase. This mistake can sometimes annoy the customer and could potentially cause the customer to change their mind, causing the deal to fall through.

Breaking Down 'Over-Selling'

Over-selling can also be an effort to convince a customer that an extra item would enhance what they are looking to buy, or that a more expensive version might be a better option. Over-selling is most common in retail outlets where associates work off on commission basis or through sales-linked  bonuses, and thus have an incentive to sell as much as possible, regardless of the customers' needs. Car dealerships are often accused of over-selling. Their sales associates sometimes fail to recognize that they can generate significantly more revenue through return customers and referrals than they can by misleading customers into paying for extras they neither need nor want. They are willing to sacrifice long-term brand equity for short-term sales by selling customers on anything and everything. 

Disadvantages of Over-Selling

Although it may be done with good intentions, over-selling usually does more harm than good. Great salespeople know when to close the sale and when the customer is ready to buy. Over-selling can have a negative impact on a company’s bottom line. It can also raise doubts in the mind of a buyer and can do so at the precise moment when the customer is looking for a reason to believe that they are making the right choice. Over-selling gives a buyer a reason to pause and ask themselves if they are paying too much, or if the item is more than what they need. Even if the buyer doesn't backpedal in an over-sell situation, the salesperson risks creating false expectations that can never be met, in which case they could be damaging their credibility as a trusted salesperson.

There are reasons to believe that the pitfalls associated with over-selling are worse today than ever before. Research shows that today’s buyers are more informed and better educated than ever before. With virtually an unlimited access to information, buyers have likely done their share of research, and may have even made up their mind before ever speaking with a sales professional. This access to information has changed the sales dynamic, as sales reps are no longer a consumer’s only source of information. Often, salespeople would benefit from a soft sell or presenting various options to customers. Need-based selling is usually a preferable alternative to over-selling.

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