By Kayleigh Alexandra, Content Writer for Micro Startups
Let’s get one thing straight right away — people don’t inherently dislike being sold to. In fact, they often welcome it. It’s exciting and confidence-boosting to feel that your individual custom is important to a business, entertaining to be given purpose-built presentations, and satisfying to have the ultimate control over whether a sale is achieved.
Yet despite this, people absolutely loathe feeling that they’re being sold to. This might seem strange, but I don’t even mean that they’re ambivalent about the sales process, welcoming and dreading it at the same time — I mean that good sales work doesn’t bring attention to itself. It gets the prospective customer so hooked by the content and the rapport that they don’t spend any time thinking about the motivation behind it.
But why do they hate being made aware of the meat that makes up the sausage, so to speak? Well, there are numerous reasons why people hate feeling that they’re being sold to, and I’m going to run you through some of the main ones. Let’s get started.
Image credit: PxHere
It takes the focus away from them
As a species, we enjoy shopping so much that we have a concept of retail therapy. This is because it’s a rewarding and diverting activity. We love walking around stores taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the presentations set up to grab our attention. We welcome the chance to gaze longingly at products we could, might, should buy. And when we’ve chosen to make a purchase, we get something out of the deal, satisfying our basic hunter-gatherer impulses. It’s very hard to find someone who doesn’t sometimes shop for the joy of it.
When you start to feel that you’re being sold to, it quickly shifts the focus away from you to the salesperson. You stop feeling that your input is seriously being considered and begin to feel that anything you say is going to be disregarded or ignored until you decide to buy whatever they’re trying to sell (or choose to leave).
It makes them feel pressured
We like taking our time to make shopping decisions, especially when we’re thinking about spending large sums. This doesn’t just give us the opportunity to crunch the numbers and reach a practical conclusion about whether the purchase is justified — it also lets us indulge in some flights of fancy while we mull things over. This is particularly the case when we’re considering several possibilities. Sometimes it’s hard to choose between three similar items, and you need to pick very, very carefully.
Any salesperson that seems impatient for you to decide and keeps pushing you to proceed with a purchase is going to achieve one of two things: they’ll either get you to buy (good, but you’re unlikely to be happy about the customer service in the long run), or they’ll drive you away from the store entirely (much more likely). The latter is considerably more likely in the age of ecommerce. Even if you’re in a brick-and-mortar store, you know that if you have a really bad experience you can always shop online at your leisure without being bothered.
Think about the effect this has on a lot of consumer goods that have moved online in droves. You don’t need to go to a store to buy a laptop or a camera —- today’s model is one of online-only electronic stores that don’t even have inventories, instead sourcing their products from generic stock supplies. Not only do customers not need to visit buildings to learn about products, but they can be very selective about the retailers they use because almost any given product can be found elsewhere if needed. Pressure will only lose you sales.
It cuts down on the possibilities
We like getting good customer service, especially in high-end stores. We’re looking for custom experiences designed to suit us as individuals. There’s a pleasant complexity to a lengthy discussion with a store assistant — you tell them your interests, they suggest something, you turn it down, they suggest something else, and so on until you find something great.
Any employee that tries too hard to sell you on a certain product, though, will sap that degree of choice. In whatever form it takes, they clearly have a vested interest in that product in particular, and that has two negative effects: it disproportionately weights their efforts in favor of that item, and it makes their advice in general impossible to consider valuable. If they tell you that their suggested product X is much better than the comparable product Y, you’ll be very suspicious of that contention.
Ultimately, we hate feeling that we’re being sold to because it ruins the illusion of feeling that our prospective purchases are entirely about us. When that spell is broken, we start seeing ourselves from the opposite end of the deal — as potential sources of revenue for the businesses selling to us. And that’s not going to convince anyone to buy!
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest micro biz news and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow them on Twitter @getmicrostarted.