Honesty Is the Best Policy: The Art of Hard Sell

Honesty Is the Best Policy: The Art of Hard Sell

If there is any professional that gets a hard time, it is the salesperson. From the character of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s classic play Death of a Salesman to the gulping realism in the definitive movie Glengarry Glen Ross, salespeople are oftentimes not portrayed in the best light. Yet selling is part of every business and nonbusiness activity. There are any number of definitions of the word sellTo sell simply means to persuade or induce someone to buy, or to win acceptance, approval or adoption. It derives from Old English, sellan, meaning “to give, offer,” and Greek, helein, “to take.”

Then there is the art of hard sell. In an article of 19 September 1979, entitled “PROMOTION,” L. Ron Hubbard states:

“The art of hard sell is you tell people to do something. Hard sell is based on knowing and promoting in the line of truth. . .”

If you are going to tell someone to do something or purchase something, then you had best be ethical about it. The product or service you are directing customers to must be a good transaction so that the person is getting proper exchange for their money.

Home & Garden Television

A case in point is HGTV or Home & Garden Television. This feel-good network was the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN. Scripps Networks Interactive, parent company to HGTV, saw its shares rise more than 30 percent last year, outperforming bigger rivals like Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox and Viacom, Inc.

We Embrace the Real America

CEO Ken Lowe walked the aisles of Home Depot and Lowe’s stores around the country and identified an audience that was passionate about their houses. They found that, for the most part, their viewers live in suburban houses with yards. As they put it: “We embrace the real America.”

Embrace is the key word here, as Mr. Hubbard explains in his article of 26 September 1979 titled “COPYWRITING”:

“Hard sell means insistence that people buy. It means caring about the person and not being reasonable* about stops or barriers but caring enough to get him through the stops or barriers to get the service.”

Hard sell is all about caring, and HGTV cares about a lot of things, especially embracing the real America, as do their advertisers. The average HGTV viewer is a college-educated suburban woman with household income of $83,600 a year and an interest in home improvement; this is a big win for advertisers like Home Depot and Lowe’s. Wayfair, an e-commerce company that sells housewares, is one of the channel’s biggest advertisers, with product integration, commercial time and on-air graphics that urge viewers to “shop this look” on the company’s website—hard sell personified.

HGTV has several sister channels, including the Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Food Network, Great American Country and the Travel Channel. They all have that common thread of do-it-yourself reality television, whether it be cooking or flipping a house—plus their secret sauce of embracing and caring about their viewers, advertisers and the environment. In fact, Wayfair has seen their web traffic double when it airs commercials on the network.

Giving Back

Scripps Networks Interactive believes that making the world a better place to live doesn’t have to be an overwhelming goal. The diversity of ideas, experiences and backgrounds their employees bring to every aspect of their business allows their corporate social responsibility efforts to truly inspire change in the world. They leverage the power of their brands through partnerships that share their values and vision in order to improve the communities in which we live and work—one meal, one home, one community, at a time. ​

L. Ron Hubbard says, “Don’t soft sell.” If you care about your customer, you don’t have to!

*reasonable: trying to make illogical information or situations seem logical by imagining, inventing or being willing to accept false reasons to explain them.


  1. Postrel, Virginia. “The Fascinating Secrets of HGTV’s Success.” NYPost.com. New York Post, 7 Jan. 2017. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.
  2. Smith, Gerry. Bloomberg News. “HGTV’s Escapist, Fantasy Programming Succeeding.” HeraldTribune.com.Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8 Jan. 2017. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.
  3. Axford, Will. “More People Are Watching HGTV than CNN.” Chron.com. Houston Chronicle, 4 Jan. 2017. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.


Let us hear your feedback. E-mail prosperity-magazine@wise.org

Issue: 17020811INT

Share This