Awareness of Sales Pressure: A Consumer’s First Defense

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

We’ve all felt the pressure when a zealous salesperson leans on us to make a purchase. Whether it’s at a car showroom, an appliance store or at our own front door or kitchen table, the fact is, it’s difficult to say, “No,” to someone when you’re dealing with them face-to-face. It feels like you’re rejecting them and their efforts to ‘help’ you. No one likes to be the ‘bad guy’ who – sometimes literally – shuts the door in their face.

As consumers, however, it’s important that we realize that a good sales strategy takes those very emotions into consideration and leverages them to prompt us to make purchases. It happens with in-person sales, for cars and televisions and vinyl siding. It happens in a more anonymous – but equally compelling way – with sales and special offers. The key is to realize that saying, “No,” to sales pressure in any form is our only defense in the game of retail. The only way we can win is to be aware of how the cards are stacked against us.

Let’s explore some of the techniques used by sellers to get us to buy. Sometimes these techniques help us get what we need and want at a good price – and sometimes they encourage us to spend more than we want or buy more than we need. Be aware of the techniques and you’ll be a more empowered consumer.

  • Discounts – These come in all shapes and sizes: a sale, buy one, get one free, free shipping, a percentage off of your purchase… While a discount off a regular price can be a good thing, consider what that lower price does to your judgement and resulting actions. There’s nothing wrong with stocking up on a bargain as long as you make sure you don’t buy more than you need or want just because of the discount. Don’t use sales to justify overbuying.
  • Limited time/availability – By throwing the element of time into the buying equation, sellers add additional pressure to buy. “This sale ends January 31.” “There are only 10,000 of these in existence.” These restrictions on what we can get and when we can get it provide an urgency in our minds to buy now so as not to miss out on a deal or item – whether we really want or need the item now. Chances are, any deal you miss out on now will come back around eventually.
  • High desirability – Unfortunately, peer pressure doesn’t end with high school. We want to have those items that are popular and ‘special’ because it’s etched into our psyche that to ‘have’ what is desirable makes us more desirable, interesting or better. By appealing to that part of us that needs affirmation, sellers can wield great power over our better judgement. Sellers are well aware of this and work long and hard at making their offerings irresistible. Consider your rationale for purchases to make sure you’re not falling into that particular trap.
  • Impulse – The reasons we make impulsive purchases are many: boredom, convenience, price, taste/smell/appearance… When our sales resistance is low, impulse buying is most likely. When we’re feeling tired, lazy or stressed, we tend to look for an easy fix – in the guise of a candy bar, fast food, a cute, clever or scented do-dad. Impulse items are rarely on our shopping list and are usually unnecessary or ill-considered purchases.

Sales pressure doesn’t have to sabotage your finances; simply being aware of its potential to influence your purchasing will make you a more empowered consumer.

What’s the most difficult sales strategy for you to resist?

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