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The (Really) Hard Sell

If you don't need repeat clients and don't care about Yelp reviews and have no scruples or many morals, by all means go for The Really Hard Sell.

At first, you want to be friendly, polite and respectful. Soon, you learn it’s eat or be eaten.

In the world of online courses, Amazon reviews and Facebook likes, a trip to the night market in Marrakesh is a visit to The Hard Sell.

She took my wife’s hand with a friendly tug and immediately started doing … I couldn’t really see what she was doing. My friendly, polite and respectful wife didn’t pull away (hard enough) or refuse (loud enough) so the woman kept up with her business.

Within seconds, my wife had the beginnings of a Henna tattoo on her hand. This is the equivalent of the “You Break It, You Buy It” retail policy in the brick and mortar. In the online world, it’s the Freemium model: we’ll give you a free sampling of our product, but we’d like you to buy the premium service if you want to.

Except this is the Pree-mium model–there is nothing free about it.

I weighed my options:

  1. Walk away, without my wife, in hopes that this would show we mean business and we don’t want the Henna tattoo.
  2. Smile and thank and croon and walk away smiling the entire time.
  3. Using short and firm French, make it clear this isn’t what you wanted and you’re leaving.
  4. Suck it up to experience and live with it.
  5. Pay

In fact, I tried all of these. In the above order. By the time it got to #4, neither party was happy with the situation. It’s not like there’s a Better Business Bureau around or that I can write up a nasty review on Trip Adviser. In fact, it was more along the lines of what’s that group of three men approaching doing and are they with her and are they part of the deal? Are they the crew that comes around when it gets to Stage 3?

This is the real world. But isn’t the online world the real world, too? In a modern, this-is-it sense? I venture to declare that this happens quite a bit. It doesn’t have the old woman wrapped in layer upon layer of clothing, her dark eyes buried deep in her head.

But we do have terribly convincing sales pages. Complete with over-the-top claims and hard-to-disbelieve testimonials from success after using the product in question.

“But I don’t even want this product! (Doesn’t matter.)

We might buy the product or service even though we feel that we don’t really need it or, for that matter, want it. But in the end, neither party is happy with the outcome.

No one likes The Hard Sell. Well, except maybe the hard seller. Especially when you think that their customers are not repeat customers. In fact, even if the customers wanted to be repeat customers, they’re tourists and even if they came back, how are you going to find the heavyset woman with the missing teeth, flowing robes and a strong-arm sales tactic that actually involves Strong and an Arm?

Even Barbara Bush and Just Say No wouldn’t survive here. It’s more along the lines of:

  1. Just Say No
  2. Just Keep on Saying No
  3. Walk Away without Hesitation
  4. Smile and Wave. Smile and Wave

If we open our eyes and are open to change, it’s all right there. Every Single Day.


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