Hard Sell vs Soft Sell: Which Is Better?

Stuart Laurie
June 12, 2023

Have you ever been in a situation where a salesperson was trying to convince you to buy something? Did they use a forceful approach or a more gentle one? These two approaches are known as hard sell and soft sell. Thinking hard sell vs soft sell, which one is better? We’ll clear it out.

In the age of competition, selling is becoming harder. A sales rep needs to choose the right approach to make a sale effectively and quickly. Hard sell techniques prioritize closing the sale quickly, while soft sell techniques prioritize building relationships and trust with the customer. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. The effectiveness of each approach depends on various factors.

Keeping all these in mind, we will demonstrate hard sell vs soft sell. We will also discuss each characteristic, pros, cons, and examples so that you can have a clear idea of the right approach for different scenarios.

What Is Hard Sell?

A form of selling that involves direct and aggressive persuasion tactics to close sales quickly with hard sell approaches. Hence, hard sell approaches can be characterized by a pushy and urgent tone. The techniques are more into urgency, scarcity, and emotional manipulation. Here, the focus is solely on the sale rather than building relationships with customers.

People often get confused about whether it is a hard sale or hard sell. First of all, it is not something that is hard to sell. The hard sell means using tactics like repeated follow-up calls, high-pressure sales pitches, and a one-size-fits-all approach to persuade customers to buy products or services.


Characteristics Of Hard Sell

Now that you know the hard sell definition, let’s get to know its key characteristics. These include the following,

Shorten Sales Cycle

The primary goal in hard selling is to close the sale as soon as possible. The sales reps may use high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency.

Urgent And Pushy

Customers will often receive a pushy and urgent tone in a hard sell procedure. The sales representative may make repeated follow-up calls and even use insistent language.

Strong Persuasion

Hard selling techniques often involve using strong and persistent persuasion tactics to convince potential customers to make a purchase, regardless of their initial hesitations or objections.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Hard selling techniques are more of a one-size-fits-all approach. In this situation, the sales representative may not try to understand the needs and concerns of customers.

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Pros and Cons of Hard Sell

Now let's discuss about hard sell pros and cons.


  1. Quick Results: Since it is all about closing sales quickly, hard sell techniques always lead to fast results. As a result, it can be useful in situations where time is of the essence.
  2. Direct Approach: The technique is more focused on a direct sales approach by overcoming the objections of potential customers. This is due to using insistent language and aggressive sales tactics.
  3. Strong Persuasion: When the salesperson learns how to persuade potential customers to make purchasing decisions in a short time.


  1. Negative Reputation: Hard sell techniques can be responsible for damaging customer relationships if they make them feel pressured or uncomfortable. This can result in negative reviews and word of mouth. Ultimately, this will damage the company’s reputation.
  2. Lack of Trust: Customers may feel that the salesperson is only interested in making a sale, not in their needs. Since customers are not finding their desired solutions, they may not purchase the product or service. This can erode trust with customers.
  3. Ethical Issues: Hard sell techniques can cross ethical boundaries if they involve misleading or deceptive practices. This can lead to legal problems, fines, and reputational damage.
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Examples of Hard Sell in Advertising and Sales

When it comes to hard sell vs soft sell, it can be confusing. If it is difficult for you to understand, then you should know the positive and negative hard selling examples.

Positive Example of Hard Sell

A positive example of a hard sell could be a sales representative who is highly motivated and passionate about their product, and who believes strongly in its value and benefits. They may use direct language and techniques to make a compelling argument for why the consumer should purchase the product right away, highlighting its unique features and benefits and offering special deals or incentives to sweeten the deal.

For instance, let's say a sales representative is selling a new line of energy-efficient appliances. They might use a hard sell approach by emphasizing the long-term savings on electricity bills, the environmental benefits, and the premium quality of the product. They could offer a limited time discount or promotion to encourage the potential customer to make a purchase decision right away, and they might also create a sense of urgency by pointing out that supplies are limited or the promotion will only last for a short period of time. If done correctly, this approach could result in a successful sale and a satisfied consumer who feels like they've made a smart investment.

Negative Example of Hard Sell

A negative example of a hard sell could be a sales representative who uses aggressive or manipulative tactics to try and force the potential customer into making a purchase, without considering their needs or preferences. This approach could leave the potential customer feeling pressured, uncomfortable, or even deceived.

For example, imagine a car salesman who tries to push a particular vehicle on a potential customer without taking into account their budget, lifestyle, or personal preferences. The salesperson may use high-pressure tactics such as creating a sense of urgency, making false claims about the car's features or benefits, or using sell tactics to make the prospective customer feel like they're missing out on a great deal. This can lead to an unpleasant experience for the potential customer and may result in them feeling cheated or ripped off.

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What Is Soft Sell?

A form of selling that emphasizes building relationships with potential customers and focusing on their needs. Rather than using aggressive persuasion tactics to close sales quickly, a soft sell approach involves building trust and credibility with customers. Therefore, a soft salesperson needs to understand potential customers’ needs.

In soft selling techniques, the salesperson may educate customers, use storytelling, and earn empathy to build solid relationships with customers. Eventually, the salesperson may guide the customer to make a purchase.


Characteristics Of Soft Sell

Now that you have learned the soft selling definition, it is time to know its characteristics. Below are the key characteristics of soft sell,

Build Trust And Credibility

If you are asking, “What is soft selling?” It is all about building trust and credibility with the customer. Unlike hard sell, it takes time to understand what customers are looking for.

Friendly And Conversational

In soft selling, customers often receive a friendly and conversational tone from the salesperson. Rather than using pushy tones, the salesperson tries to educate the customers about the products or services with adequate information.

Customer’s Priority Is First

In the soft sell approach, the salesperson always gives priority to the customer’s needs and concerns. They try to understand potential customer's needs by asking questions. Then, the salesperson may come up with tailored solutions to encourage them to make a purchase decision.

Earn Loyalty And Empathy

Soft selling can definitely be an effective way to build long-term relationships with customers. It allows the salesperson to leave a positive vibe for his customers. This will encourage the customer to return and make more purchases in the future.

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Pros And Cons Of Soft Sell

Just like a hard sell, a soft sell has its unique benefits and drawbacks. Without further ado, we will look at the notable advantages and disadvantages of soft selling.


  1. Builds Relationships: Soft selling builds long-term relationships with customers. It helps salespeople gain customers' loyalty and trust. Therefore, business can see high customer retention rate.
  2. Build Trust: By offering tailored solutions to customers, soft selling earns their trust. As a result, the brand's reputation may grow due to positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals.
  3. Consultative Approach: Soft sell techniques are more useful in complex sales situations. The salesperson takes a consultative approach that provides the customer with a deeper understanding.
  4. Customized Solutions: After analyzing the unique needs of customers, soft sell can offer customized solutions. This can increase customer experience and engagement.


  1. Slow Results: It takes a long time to close a sale in the soft sell process. It is based on building relationships with customers and understanding their needs, which may take some time.
  2. Requires Skill and Expertise: Apart from more effort and time, soft sell techniques require skilled and experienced salespeople. Without the right skills, it can be challenging to understand customer requirements in a limited amount of time.
  3. Limited Success with Certain Customers: Soft selling may not be effective with customers who are more interested in the price of the product or service. This also includes customers who have more transactional approaches.
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Examples of Soft Sell in Advertising and Sales

When it comes to hard sell vs soft sell, it is better to have a clear idea on soft sell too. If you have seen the hard sell examples, then it would be unbiased not to share the soft selling examples. Let’s have a look.

Positive Soft Sell Example

A positive soft sell example involves using a subtle approach to persuade customers to make a purchase. Instead of being pushy and aggressive, businesses can use persuasive language that highlights the benefits of their product or service in a friendly and non-threatening way.

For instance, a company selling organic beauty products could use phrases such as "nourish your skin naturally" or "pamper yourself with our all-natural ingredients". By emphasizing the positive aspects of their offerings, companies can create a sense of goodwill and trust with their customers, which can lead to repeat business and referrals. Ultimately, a positive soft sell approach prioritizes building long-term relationships with customers over short-term sales goals.

Negative Soft Sell Example

A negative soft sell is a marketing technique that aims to persuade customers to buy a product by highlighting the negative consequences of not making the purchase.

For example, a company might use fear tactics to convince customers that they will miss out on an opportunity or suffer some form of harm if they do not buy their product. This approach can be effective in some cases, but it can also come across as manipulative and pushy.

Consumers may feel like they are being coerced into making a purchase rather than making an informed choice based on their needs and preferences. As such, businesses should be careful when using negative soft sell tactics and consider whether this approach aligns with their brand values and customer expectations.

Hard Sell vs Soft Sell: Comparison At A Glance

There is a fundamental contrast between a hard sell and a soft sell: a hard sell involves a direct, immediate approach, while a soft sell employs an indirect, long-term strategy.

While many sales experts advocate for the soft sell, it's important to note that both approaches have their place and effectiveness, depending on the specific circumstances.

Hard Sell

Soft Sell


A sales approach that involves direct and aggressive persuasion tactics.

A sales approach involves building customer relationships and focusing on their needs.


Focuses on short sales process and sales strategy.

Emphasizes building trust and credibility.


Pushy, urgent, and high-pressure.

Friendly, conversational, and informative.


Uses aggressive and high-pressure sales strategy like urgency, scarcity, and emotional manipulation.

Focuses on building relationships through education, storytelling, and empathy.


1. Cold Email
2. Telemarketing
3. Door-to-door sales

1. Content marketing
2. Email marketing
3. Social media engagement


1. Quick results
2. Increased sales
3. Competitive advantage
4. Greater control over the sales process

1. Builds relationships
2. Builds trust
3. Enhances customer experience
4. Increased customer engagement


1. Negative reputation
2. Lack of trust
3. Ethical issues
4. Damage relationships with customers
5. Not effective for all products or services

1. Longer sales cycle
2. Requires more time and effort
3. Can be less effective at generating quick sales
4. Limited Success with Certain Customers
5. May not be suitable for all industries

When To Use

1. When selling high-urgency products or services
2. When working with an informed buyer

1. When selling complex or high-ticket items
2. When building long-term customer relationships

Which Sales Approach Is Better: Soft Sell Vs Hard Sell?

If you have come this far, you have learned many things, including soft selling vs hard selling, their advantages, and their disadvantages. Depending on the product and target audience, you may need to go for either a hard sell or a soft sell. Perhaps, you can consider the following points,

Depends on the Product or Service

Some products or services may be better suited for a hard sell approach, while others may require a softer approach. For example, a limited-time offer or a product with a clear value proposition may benefit from a hard sell approach. On the other hand, products that require more education or explanation may require a softer, consultative approach.

Depends On The Target Audience

The effectiveness of a hard or soft sell approach can be influenced by the target audience. For example, younger and more tech-savvy customers may be more responsive to a hard sell approach. On the contrary, older and more traditional customers may prefer a softer approach, which focuses on building a relationship.

Finding The Right Balance Between Hard Sell And Soft Sell

Besides the above two considerations, finding the right balance between hard sell and soft sell techniques is the key to success. Understanding customers' needs and preferences is essential for salespeople. They can tailor their approach accordingly.

Never limit your attention to one strategy. Sometimes, using a combination of hard and soft sell techniques may drive success quickly. However, it also depends on the situation. For example, a salesperson may start with a soft sell approach to build relationships with customers and understand their needs. Then, he can transition to a hard sell approach to close the sales deals.

Final Notes

Both a soft sell and a hard sell can be effective in different situations. All you need to do is know their characters, their advantages, and their disadvantages. Meanwhile, learning hard sell vs soft sell can give you additional insights for taking the right approach to different sales cases.

After considering the facts of choosing a hard sell or a soft sell, you need to find the right balance between them. You should always remember that the ultimate salespeople are those who can adapt to each customer's unique needs and tailor their sales approach accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hard Selling Illegal?

No, hard selling is not illegal. However, certain tactics used in hard selling can be considered unethical or illegal. These include making false claims or misleading the potential customer. Salespeople should always follow ethical guidelines and avoid using deceptive tactics in their sales approach.

When to use hard selling?

Hard selling is a sales technique that involves forceful or aggressive persuasion tactics to encourage customers to purchase a product. This approach may be appropriate when the product is in high demand when the customer has already expressed interest and needs extra motivation to make a decision when the customer is seeking a good deal or discount, or when the salesperson has a strong relationship with the customer and knows they respond well to more assertive sales tactics. However, it's important to consider the negative consequences of hard selling, such as making the customer feel uncomfortable or pushing them into a purchase they may later regret. Therefore, hard selling should be used with caution and only in appropriate situations where it aligns with the customer's needs and preferences.

When To Use Soft Selling?

Soft selling is a sales technique that emphasizes building relationships with customers and providing them with information to help them make informed purchasing decisions. This approach is best suited for situations where the product requires significant research or consideration before making a decision, the customer has not expressed interest in the product but may benefit from it, the salesperson wants to build rapport and establish trust, or the customer has specific needs or concerns that require a more consultative approach.

Using soft selling techniques can be effective in establishing long-term customer relationships and fostering brand loyalty. However, it may not be as effective for products that have a sense of urgency or limited availability. Ultimately, the choice between hard selling and soft selling depends on the specific product, customer, and situation.

What Can be Some Hard Sell vs Soft Sell Advertising Examples?

Hard sell advertising examples could include advertisements with phrases such as "Buy now, limited time offer!" or "Don't miss out on this amazing deal!" On the other hand, soft sell advertising examples might include ingredients to build a relationship with the customer. These ingredients can be customer testimonials or the benefits of the product or service.

What is Soft Selling Content?

It is a type of content that takes a more consultative approach, with a focus on building a relationship with the customer. It also addresses their needs and concerns. Here, the goal is to build trust with the customer and establish a long-term relationship. Soft selling content may involve providing educational resources, offering personalized recommendations, or highlighting the benefits of the product or service in a non-pushy way.