Dealing with sales pressure: Say no and walk away



I’m reading through old posts (because I do that sometimes) and I found an old post of yours from like your first month of blogging here about handling sales pressure when you plan a major purchase. I have a strategy for it that works really well since I can’t think while being pressured: Develop a no reflex.

By which I mean: Teach yourself to say no and walk away the moment you feel pressured or confused. When you’re pressured, you need to get yourself space and time so you can think. If you’re feeling pressured, say no and walk away. If you’re feeling like you’re not allowed to leave, say no and walk away. If you’re feeling like you can’t get a word in edgewise, say no and walk away. If they’ve manipulated you into being so pressured/stressed you can’t talk, then shake your head no and walk away. Above all: get yourself away from the sales person so you have space and time to think. Practice it over and over and over so it becomes your reflexive response to feeling pressured or coerced in a sales environment.

It feels like you’re being rude to do this, especially if you were socialized to not have boundaries. But you’re not. You’re asserting a boundary: You’re saying, “I will not be pressured into this decision.” Say no and walk away. Get yourself the space and time to think clearly. 

If the person won’t leave you alone, leave the store. Say no and walk away. Nothing says you have to get it from that particular store or on that particular day. If you’re not confident that someone will let you make your own decision, say no and walk away.

High-pressure sales people work by manipulating you into thinking that saying no isn’t an option or that leaving isn’t an option. They don’t tell you this explicitly, but they know how to trick you into thinking it. They badger and badger and badger until you want to shove money at them just to shut them up. But they lie. No is always an option when you’re buying something, and if you find yourself feeling like you’re not allowed to decline something or if you’re feeling so overstimulated that you’re desperate to make it stop, it’s time to say no and walk away. You do not have to give them your money, your time, or your attention. Say no and walk away.

Another thing they might do is try to convince you to take something more expensive than you can afford or more expensive than the one you want. In this case, reassert what you want, and if they won’t take it for an answer, you can say no and walk away and get the thing somewhere else or at some other time.

I’m not the best at budgeting (to put it mildly) but since I’ve developed my no reflex, I actually have a surplus at the end of each month because I don’t get pressured into buying things I don’t need and can’t afford.

Now, full disclosure: Say no and walk away can backfire if you apply it in the wrong situation. If an authority figure is pressuring you into something, they probably won’t respond well to it. As well, it can lead you to refusing to buy things you were going to buy anyway, but in that case I judge it just as well because I don’t think that someone who distresses me so much that my no reflex is activated deserves to get a sale off me. But with most situations, and especially with the majority of sales situations, it works well as a way of getting time and space for thinking.

empiredice said:

I would like to add to this. Because some people are more comfortable with scripts, and I handle salespeople coming up to me pretty well, generally, because of some that were unintentionally given to me when I was little, and they are polite, firm, non-defensive scripts.

#1. “I’m just browsing.” I say this whenever a salesperson rushes up to me eager to help their new customer, me. It effectively shoos them away. They typically respond, “ok, let me know if you need anything!” then go back to what they were doing before. I don’t think it’s ever failed me.

#2. “Can I try this on?” (while holding clothing) or “do you have a bathroom?” Not what they seem! While you might really need these for the intended purposes, if you’re overstimulated or having a breakdown these are private places most stores have where you can take a little break. I highly recommend a dressing room over a bathroom for overstimulation because it’s cleaner and there’s less musical doors going on. Ask these when you don’t know where the rooms are but need a break.

#3. “I’m not buying today.” I love this one for pushy salespeople and big purchases. For the big ones, it leaves the door open to asking questions about something I want to purchase but need to weigh pros and cons before committing to. But it is also explicit that I’m not going to make a sale that day. It says, I won’t appreciate being pressured to buy right now, and if you can respect that and just answer my questions I will probably ask for you when I come back so you still get the commission. Awesome huh? Who knew four words could say so much. There is a caveat, though: payment plans. Stores that carry expensive items (like furniture, for example) tend to offer payment plans and an eager salesperson may interpret this script as “I don’t have the money right now” (which may also be true, and something you needed to ask about.) But don’t fall for it, too. Committing to such a plan is no different than making a purchase. I don’t have scripts for this, but “no thank you” will probably work fine. “I’ll have to sleep on it” would probably work if you needed to ask questions about a plan but suddenly find yourself being asked if you want to go with (buy) their payment plan.

#4. “No, thanks.” Just a simple, polite, no.

I’m extremely terrified of people in general and typically can’t talk to people I don’t know but I’m good with these and usually have a pleasant shopping experience or at least, the unpleasantness of my experience is out of wanting things I can’t afford.