7+ High-Pressure Sales Tactics to Avoid (And What To Do Instead)

What comes to mind when you hear "high-pressure sales tactics?" You’d likely think of salespeople who will do anything to get the sale.

Typical examples of what they do include:

  • Constant calling, after you've made it clear you're not interested
  • Constantly raising the price of their product or services
  • Making exaggerated claims or blatant lies about a product's benefits
  • Using high-pressure tactics such as fear and guilt to get the sale

These high-pressure tactics can be extremely off-putting for customers, leading them to believe your company is overly desperate and untrustworthy.

In addition, high-pressure sales tactics can even lead to legal action if they cross the line.

For instance, high-pressure tactics, like making false or exaggerated claims about a product's benefits, could constitute fraud. Or if you're targeting customers in Europe, high-pressure tactics can violate GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and other consumer privacy laws.

Bottom line: high-pressure sales tactics are not only ineffective, but they also carry significant risks, too. Let's talk about which tactics you should avoid, plus what you can do instead to close deals ethically.

7+ Examples of High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Let's examine a few more high-pressure sales tactics you should avoid:

1. Offering Overly Tight “Limited-Time” Discounts

Most times, shoppers are willing to go the extra mile for a great bargain; in fact, 80 percent of customers search out discounts!

But offering a “limited-time” discount to create urgency can easily be seen as high pressure by many customers if the redemption period is too short.

For example, if you offer a one-day-only discount, customers may feel rushed and pressured into making an immediate decision.

And when customers feel this way, especially if you're on a call with them and it seems like you're trying to get them to commit to something prematurely, they'll likely back out.

Maintain a strong pricing strategy and effectively communicate with customers by learning how to say no to discount requests.

2. Making Too Many Phone Calls Or Emails

If a potential client is interested in your product or service, it's ok to follow up a few times. Research from Yesware shows it’s advisable to follow up six times spread out over roughly three weeks.

Examples of High-Pressure Sales Tactics

But if you're calling or sending emails incessantly, they're likely to feel pressured and frustrated.

On top of that, too many phone calls or emails may appear desperate, suggesting that your product or service may not be as high quality as you claim. They might think "if it's that good, why do you need to call me so often?"

Personalized engagement is a key aspect of effective account-based sales tactics.

3. Offering Irrelevant Upsells or Add-Ons

Upselling and offering add-ons are proven strategies to increase revenue—72% of salespeople who upsell say it drives up to 30% of their revenue.

But it's important to do it in a way that doesn't pressure customers and is relevant to their current situation. For example, trying to upsell customers on high-priced items or add-ons that are irrelevant to their needs may make you seem like you're only out to make a quick sale.

Customers may feel you're not there to help and any amount of trust you might have earned can quickly disappear.

Case in point: you're selling a web hosting service but also trying to upsell customers on high-end copywriting services. On the surface, this may seem like a convenient bundle, but the customer buying web hosting services may not need copywriting services yet.

4. Aggressive Discrediting Competitors’ Products

In certain sales situations, you may be tempted to resort to making aggressive statements about a competitor's product or service.

But customers would often consider this type of behavior unprofessional, as it can make them feel you're being manipulative, and would happily play dirty to make money.

Plus, speaking negatively about a competitor's product can lead to legal action if the statements are false or misleading. Instead of attacking competitors, focus on promoting the benefits your product or service can provide.

5. Using FOMO or Language Like “Act Now or Miss Out”

Using fear of missing out (FOMO) as a sales technique has been proven to work several times, but it could easily backfire if customers don't feel they have enough time to make an informed decision.

A good example is when you tell customers they need to "act now or miss out," suggesting that the product or service is in high demand and may be gone soon.

If they see it's not really high in demand for them, they'll likely see you as dishonest because the product or service isn't an immediate necessity and you're pressuring them to buy.

6. Refusing to Accept No for an Answer

You should have a point you get to when you accept that a customer isn't interested in your product or service—and it's important to stick to it.

When they expressly say no, avoid insisting or trying to push them into making a purchase. Refusing to accept their answer will probably drive them away from your business for good.

Even worse, customers can tell others about your intense sales practices, and that alone might harm your reputation and lead to lost business down the road.

7. Subtly Intimidating or Threatening the Customer

Most salespeople won't go all the way and directly threaten a prospective customer.

But using passive-aggressive tactics like implying that they'll regret not making the purchase, or suggesting something bad will happen if they don't buy your product or service can be just as damaging to the relationship and trust between you and the customer.

So it's always advisable to keep it professional and avoid tactics like this in your sales process. It's much better to be friendly and informative, emphasizing the value that your product or service can provide to the customer.

Other Examples of High-Pressure Sales Tactics Include:

  • Refusing to answer simple questions about the product
  • Inflating past performance of a product or service
  • Trying to “upscale” customers by suggesting more expensive products/services
  • Making it extra difficult to opt out of a sale
  • Omitting material facts and making unreasonable promises
  • Contacting customers after they’ve unsubscribed
  • Ignoring a customer’s right to change their mind
  • Refusing to provide a refund or exchange after offering a money-back guarantee
  • Setting deadlines without valid reasoning
  • Making high-pressure sales cold calls after regular business hours

Unlock the potential of your sales team by adopting the Challenger Sales methodology.

What Are The Drawbacks of Using High-Pressure Sales Tactics?

There are two major drawbacks to high-pressure sales tactics.

First, they often scare potential customers away or cause them to distrust you and your business. In fact, they might likely think your business is a scam.

When a customer feels like they’re being pushed or forced into making a purchase, it's not uncommon that they'll become frustrated and walk away.

A Gartner report has revealed that sales reps have roughly 5% of a customer’s time during their B2B buying journey. This means before B2B buyers ever reach out to your organization, they're usually 95% of the way through their buying journey; the remaining 5% is your chance to build trust.

They're doing their buying research themselves. They don't want to be pushed or rushed into a decision; they want to be guided and informed to make the best purchase decision.

A second common drawback of high-pressure sales tactics is they can lead to negative brand reviews and a bad reputation.

When customers feel like they’ve been the victim of high-pressure sales tactics, there's a chance they'll take to social media or other online platforms to share their experience. And that rarely ever ends well for the business in question.

What to Do Instead: How to Close Deals Without Resorting to High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Now that we've established high-pressure sales tactics are a no-no, here are a few strategies to help you close deals without the need for excessive persuasion, manipulative talk, or hard selling:

1. Find Highly Qualified Leads Instead of Reaching Out to Everyone

Instead of reaching out to everyone you can find, focus on finding high-quality leads who are ready and willing to buy your product or service.

Here are a few ways to find high-quality leads:

  • Use Leadfeeder to find potential buyers who've visited your site
  • Create high-value content to attract potential clients
  • Use lead scoring tools and other automation to find potential customers who engage with your content a lot in emails

There are several other lead generation strategies you can use; the key is to find high-quality leads who are likely to buy and then focus all of your efforts on those leads.

2. Offer Valuable Content and Resources

As we've hinted above, high-value content is essential to any successful sales process.

If prospects are already 95% through their buying journey before they reach out to your sales team, it means they're doing their research and looking for answers to their questions.

Your job is to provide them with high-value resources that answer those questions and help them make the best purchasing decision. You can do this by:

  • Sharing high-value content with email subscribers (if any)
  • Sending potential customers high-quality resources like eBooks and white papers
  • Publishing thoroughly-crafted blog posts containing helpful information
  • Providing webinars and other training resources to help potential clients in their purchase journey

This way, you show you genuinely care about your potential customers’ needs and you can be trusted.

3. Warm Up Prospects With Social Selling

Social selling is when salespeople use social media platforms to connect with prospects, build relationships, and ultimately, close deals.

The entire concept is based on the idea that buyers are more likely to make a purchase if they trust the seller. And social media is an excellent platform to build that trust.

Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Start a conversation via direct messages: Reach out to prospects on social media and start a conversation. You could ask for advice or ask a question relating to their work. Somewhere along the conversation, if you find out that your product or service could help solve their pain points, you can start pitching.
  • Showcase your expertise: Share high-value content and resources on social media to showcase your expertise. Why? It helps you build trust and stay top of mind.
  • Respond to comments: If customers or prospects comment on your post, make sure to respond promptly. This signals that you care about their opinion and could go a long way toward building trust. Plus, most algorithms reward high engagement and visibility, so high engagement could lead to more organic reach.

In the end, the underlying principle here is to be social, not salesy. Engage with prospects genuinely and build relationships, rather than spamming them with high-pressure sales tactics.

4. Listen to Prospects Instead of Rushing the Close

This is one of the most important points to consider when it comes to closing deals without high-pressure sales techniques.

Data from Gong shows that top-producing B2B sales professionals speak 43% of the time (on average), allowing the prospect to speak 57% of the time (on average).

Too many salespeople rush into the close, pushing prospects to decide before they’re ready. And, again, buyers can sense desperation and high-pressure selling tactics right away and might push back against that.

Instead, use active listening to understand the prospects’ needs and let them talk as much as they want. Listen to understand, not to reply. The more you understand their situation, the better you can tailor your sales pitch and close the deal.

Pull, Don't Push

No one wants to be pushed into buying something they don't need or want. So, instead of high-pressure sales tactics that can push customers away, try to pull them towards you with high-value content, social selling, and active listening.

This way, you can build trust, stay top of mind, and ultimately, close more deals without high-pressure tactics.

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