Aggressive Sales Tactics
What qualifies as “aggressive sales tactics?”
In short: when a salesman doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer or refuses to comply with an annuitant’s request or demand to cease contact. This can be by phone, direct mailing, e-mail, contact by social media, or showing up at one’s residence or place of work, as examples.
Sales tactics abound, and each sales representative has a strategy he or she likes to use to get more business. There’s nothing unethical about being creative in a sales pitch – but there is something unethical about disrespecting annuitants, or customers in general, and not heeding their wishes for no more contact. We feel that when an annuitant says “no” – it means NO. An annuitant shouldn’t have to resort to changing phone numbers, addresses, consulting lawyers, or being forced to read VERY carefully the sorts of fine print in mailings being received, as have been reported to us too many times.
For sake of comparison, look at sales practices in other industries such as mortgage brokering. It’s a competitive financial services business that uses public information to solicit business. Yet, mortgage brokers haven’t developed a collective reputation for predatory sales tactics; there is the occasional inconvenience of spam or undesirable direct mailing, but not to the degree of stalking on social media or physically showing up at one’s residence or workplace, as has been reported by annuitants in the past.
Why is being aggressive problematic? Being aggressive separates a good salesman from a bad salesman!
There is a difference between being aggressive and being creative, assertive, or courageous during a sales call. Hostility, argument, and disrespect are the hallmarks of aggression. Even in the event that an annuitant tells you that he or she isn’t interested the first time, perhaps a mind can still be changed with a bit more conversation – even that tactic can be fine if handled with care and professionalism. The problem arises as soon as the salesman doesn’t show the respect appropriate to professional correspondence. Even professional correspondence can be informal or friendly – it cannot degenerate and still be called anything less than aggressive or simply unprofessional, however.
When an annuitant decides to factor out his or her structured settlement or annuity payments it is not the same as buying a new vacuum cleaner. When companies hire employees seeking to aggressively ‘sell’ the product of cashing out income streams in this industry, it is simply not on the same level as buying a typical product. Structured settlements and annuities are income streams, not vacuum cleaners or microwaves. When a salesman aggressively pitches to you why the new vacuum cleaner or microwave is desirable over one you may already have, that’s a pitch for a physical product that can be returned or replaced if defective, or if the deal isn’t as juicy as the salesman claims. When structured settlements are cashed out, in part or in total, there is no replacement product. A vacuum cleaner that’s bought due to a successful sales pitch that ends up dissatisfying to the consumer probably doesn’t have the potential to ruin their financial security and/or the rest of their lives; cashing out a structured settlement or annuity payment just might. This is a transaction that must be carefully reviewed and assessed. Convincing annuitants to cash out, especially when done over and over again through repeat solicitation of business, can be dangerous. As many industry professionals know, plenty of annuitants are desperate for relief due to the burden in their lives that required their structures or annuities to begin with. Factoring is a useful, perhaps even critical part of the structured settlement industry – but it should not be approached the same way as other sales. Annuitants have already been victimized before; it is unconscionable to aggressively pursue them for business when understanding that their quality of life may very well be in jeopardy if they are coerced into cashing out a payment stream needlessly. Factoring a transaction should not be part of a high-octane sales culture; the customers aren’t just average consumers – they’re people with unique and special needs and circumstances who must be dealt with professionally and, oftentimes, delicately. They cannot be victimized further.
What about direct advertising?
As long as this advertising isn’t conducted in a hostile or harassing manner, such advertising isn’t inherently unethical. As long as the annuitant can opt out of being subject to this advertising, such as changing the channel, radio frequency, going to a different website, etc. then it is not regarded as an aggressive sales tactic. Some may prefer never to be subject to commercial advertisements because they find such advertising annoying, but that doesn’t make the advertisements necessarily unethical.
Advertising is a perfectly legitimate marketing strategy, and an effective one at that. The only ethical consideration is one allowing the potential customer, the annuitant, an ability not to be subjected, within reason, to such advertising if that is his or her will.
What can be done about it?
Aggressive sales tactics are a matter of company and personal salesman policy. Ideally both will remain professional and not engage in aggressive tactics – but the prominence of the behavior in the industry is indicative that this is not the likeliest outcome.
If the aggressive sales tactics result in repeatedly unwanted solicitation, especially by phone, the company or its representative may be in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and could be subject to a fine of $500 - $1,500 per phone call past a request or demand for cessation of contact. For more on this subject, please read the “Actively Soliciting Repeat Deals” page under the issues tab or go to StopCashCalls.com.