The hard sell approach is actually costing you leads. Here's how to build the relationship instead.

You’ve heard it before. Always. Be. Closing. The ABCs of sales teaches your salespeople to stay on the lookout for opportunities, but this mentality also values short-term gains over long-term success.

Your organization has a relationship with every lead you capture. When you seize every opportunity to ask for the sale and start your messaging with a hardsell, it’s like asking someone to marry you before you’ve even been on a date. Your chance of success is . . . low. And you’re going to alienate a lot of people who might have been open to your proposal down the road, after they’d gotten to know you.

If your emails or banner ads just aren’t landing with your audience, it could be a sign that you’re asking too much, too early. It might be time to slow down and take a long-term approach to sales.

Taking things slow doesn’t mean losing sales

It’s easy to feel like you need to just take what you can get as far as sales, especially when you’re paying to advertise on someone else’s website or send to their email list.

But imagine you’re at a friend’s party, and you hit it off with another guest. You’re both interested in the same things, and it’s clear you have more to talk about than you can fit into a single interaction.

So they ask you to marry them.


There was something there, but they ruined it. And that’s what happens when you use partnerships to ask for sales. You’re tapping into an established audience, and your partner can even introduce you to their audience. It’s the perfect opportunity to collect leads, but probably not a good time to try to close a sale.

It’s a much smaller commitment for these strangers to give you their email address in exchange for something valuable than it is for them to make a purchase. Give this new audience a chance to get to know your brand first, and you’ll probably see a higher percentage of them eventually become sales. Plus, you’ll get more than one opportunity to make the sale.

You can’t expect great results if you’re going to ask for the sale on your first interaction with someone. But if you use that same opportunity to buy yourself more time and warm up your leads, you set yourself up for long-term success.

Find the right time to ask

If you’re really struggling with the tension between needing to make sales now and your desire for long-term success, test it. Test messaging that focuses on sales vs. messaging that focuses on lead acquisition. In your drip campaigns, segment your list and experiment with asking for the sale at different stages in the campaign.

With a well-executed A/B test, you can let data—not intuition or a strong-willed employee—determine how and when you turn your leads into sales.

Date before you marry

In our increasingly digital world, it’s easier than ever to think of leads as numbers. But when you start to see them as relationships, it’s obvious that hard sell tactics won’t start you off on the right foot.

ABAL isn’t as catchy as the ABCs of sales, but marketers need to Always Be Acquiring Leads to build a healthy audience and achieve long-term success. And for that, you’ll probably want to spend some time on content marketing.