Don Mason/Blend Images/Getty Images
High-pressure sales tactics can make saying "yes" to a sale the easiest way to end a stressful interaction. Companies rely on these often annoying approaches precisely because they work, but awareness of these tactics can help rob them of some of their power.
Interrupting a long monologue is challenging, particularly if the talker is friendly or the listener doesn't want to be rude. Some stores encourage their sales representatives to keep talking, forcing the customer to be extremely assertive when saying no. The salesperson may have a script, or a list of predetermined responses to every conceivable objection. For example, "The New York Times" reports that Staples instructs its employees to force a consumer to say "no" to a warranty three times before dropping the issue.
Salespeople frequently rely on emotional manipulation to pressure consumers into buying a product. A representative for a work-at-home company, for example, might ask you to make a list of the ways working from home could change your life, encouraging you to become emotional and therefore vulnerable to a pitch about how you should buy the company's start-up kit. Salespeople can also rely on individual emotional cues. If you seem anxious, for example, the sales pitch might focus on how a product provides safety or security.
Limited Time Offers
Limited-time offers pressure customers who are on the fence to buy something without thinking. Even among customers who might not otherwise buy a product, hearing that a product might not be available tomorrow can be a game-changer. Salespeople may also use this trick by telling you that a discount will only be around for a limited time. Related to the limited-time offer is the limited availability tactic. If you believe that there are only five items available, you'll see them as more valuable, increasing your likelihood of buying.
Most of us feel an obligation to give something in return when we receive a present or compliment. Reciprocity-based sales tactics rely on this instinct. A salesperson might give you a free sample or a drink, then ask if you can help him out with something. This strategy renders consumers more willing to listen to a sales pitch, and more likely to buy out of guilt. Free gifts and bonus add-ons can also play on consumers' desire for reciprocal giving.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.