Tuesday, January 22, 2013

High-Pressure Sales Pitches: You Mean They're Still Around?

On a research assignment during the remodeling go-go days, I observed some sales training for a large, high-volume remodeling company. I couldn't wait to leave the room. Though the sales methods were successful, as the company was (and is) a selling machine, I cringed not only for the fictional homeowners they were preparing to pitch to, but also for the salesmen (yes, they were all men) whose careers hinged on their ability to close the deals.

I thought of the Jack Lemmon character in Glengarry Glen Ross.

For better or worse, some contractors still specialize in high-pressure sales, though one would expect homeowners to be wary of the consequences of buying before they feel ready. Many, in fact, are. Check out this excerpt from an actual online review for a high-volume replacement contractor.
"The 'free estimate' took nearly 3.5 cumulative hours of my time over the course of 2 visits, employed greasy and predictable sales tactics to first create sticker shock and then slowly lower the price to something almost reasonable (but with the requirement that we had to decide on the spot, instilling a sense of very high pressure)... 

"...The whole thing is just so slimy.  I expect this kind of pitch from someone trying to sell me a timeshare, not someone trying to convince me to trust them to do construction on my house!"
Selling is critical to business success, and it is an honorable profession. But aggressive sales tactics can backfire in myriad ways, including when clients resent making hasty purchases and reputations are tainted by unsavory perceptions. What do you think of high-pressure sales tactics, remodelers? Would the industry be better off if nobody practiced them?

Or would very little get sold -- at least of some types of products?

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