A salesperson who uses soft selling is deliberate and patient. They are gaining knowledge about the client, their requirements, worries, and value perceptions. Hard selling is rarely concerned with these details. Therefore, hard selling frequently has a more transactional nature and is distinguished by aggressive action intended to persuade the buyer to make a purchase. Rarely is this sales approach appropriate.
Given the stark differences between these two strategies, it is evident that soft selling is significantly more successful over the long term. Therefore, why is it crucial to distinguish between hard selling skills and soft selling skills? The answer is that sales professionals need to be aware of both so that they can avoid situations where they unintentionally use a hard sell approach that could jeopardize the sale.
When a salesperson is focused on volume rather than value, they frequently exhibit hard selling skills. In other words, the salesperson is attempting to move on to their next sale by quickly obtaining a commitment from the customer. This method has the drawback of frequently making the customer feel pressed and uneasy.
For a solution with any level of sophistication or complexity, hard selling is ineffective because these details cannot be covered in a single sales conversation. A straightforward, uncomplicated product or service is frequently better suited for a hard sell. Furthermore, a hard sell frequently emphasizes the potential opportunity cost of not purchasing in order to get the customer to feel a sense of urgency. Hard selling often prioritizes mere product knowledge over communication skills. The hard sell strategy makes no effort to adhere to a sales process. A hard sell, however, pressures the customer into purchasing a product.
Soft selling skills focus on building rapport with customers. This strategy allows the salesperson to spend time learning about the needs, worries, and network of stakeholders that go into the customer’s purchasing decision. Soft selling calls for emotional intelligence, which enables the salesperson to comprehend the customer’s perspective on the risks to their reputation and their finances associated with a purchase.
The greatest advantage of soft selling techniques is that they take into account the customer’s entire purchasing process. Early on in the process, soft skills direct the conversation with a series of questions that both the salesperson and the customer can use to better understand each other’s needs. Later, when the salesperson is ready to start presenting a solution, soft skills are once more crucial for making an effective connection between the capabilities of the solution and the particular needs of the customer. Last but not least, the salesperson can engage in a successful trading strategy, overcome customer objections, and protect the financial value of the sale during negotiations by using soft skills.
Today’s complex needs and solutions necessitate team members to use a variety of soft skills. Too many factors, people, and changes are present in these selling scenarios for a hard sell strategy to be effective. To effectively position a sophisticated solution, salespeople need to be able to find and combine a variety of information.
Soft selling abilities also facilitate the exploration of white space opportunities. There will be no opportunity for relationship growth if the salesperson uses hard sell tactics to push the sale. There is no chance to continue the conversation because it hasn’t begun. The conversation’s subtext and specifics contain white space. Hard sells move too quickly for that nuance to be heard.
Today’s sales success necessitates utilizing a set of skills that can be applied appropriately throughout the sales cycle. Doing so requires soft selling skills. These abilities develop over time, but a salesperson can put them to use right away by simply engaging the customer in meaningful conversation, developing rapport, and providing insightful questions.
The Art of Soft Selling
Soft sell vs. hard sell
An outdated sales strategy known as the “hard sell” calls for a shorter time frame and more aggressive, standardized communication. The goal of both strategies is to close a deal with the customer, but they have various priorities and approaches. The following are some areas where the soft sell and hard sell differ:
What is a soft sell?
A soft sell is a sales strategy that puts the needs, knowledge, and trust of the customer first. The salesperson establishes a rapport with the potential customer, learns about their problems, and then makes a suggestion about how their products can address those issues. In industries where building a long-term relationship with the customer is crucial, such as those that sell subscriptions or contract services, a soft sell strategy can be useful.
How to use the soft sell technique
Everything from social media content to individualized customer relationships can use the soft sell technique. Here’s how to integrate the soft sell technique into your lead generation and sales funnel:
1. Research potential customer
Researching the customer and their needs is the first step in the soft sell procedure. If you met someone at a networking event or online, especially if their industry is unrelated to your own, you might further investigate them. If you only briefly or virtually interacted with someone, you might look up their professional social media accounts to learn more about their personality, interests, and hobbies. This research can help you formulate inquiries for your initial interaction and determine whether the person has issues that your product might be able to help with.
2. Establish a relationship with the buyer
Keep in mind that a soft sell technique puts the client and the relationship first during your initial meeting. You could initiate communication with a friendly phone call or meeting. Maintain a cordial and sympathetic tone, and focus on asking thoughtful questions. The customer gives you information as they respond to your questions that can help you learn more about them personally and professionally.
3. Consult to find out their needs
Knowing a customer better will help you determine whether your products can address any issues or enhance their operational procedures. Ask them specific questions about the difficulties they face and how well their current service providers and providers are serving them as you continue to communicate with them.
When you have a solid understanding of their problems and how your product can solve them, you can call them or send them a personalized email to request a chance to show them your product. Be sure to maintain your cordial demeanor, empathy, and attentive listening as you transition into direct references to your products.
4. Make a recommendation
Personalize your information to address this customer and their business needs when you present your product to the customer, whether that be through a formal presentation and demo or through a more casual conversation. This may require you to only offer them information on products that address their urgent needs or only options that fall within their price range. While you might use a standard presentation script for a hard sell, a soft sell presentation can use a less formal structure. Without limiting you to a particular script, an outline may help you stay on topic and remember all of the information.
As you speak, pay attention to the verbal response of the audience to determine what they are most interested in. If you are presenting to them in person or on video, try to determine their reaction from their body language. With this knowledge, you can adjust your presentation as you go to concentrate on information that the customer will find interesting and relevant and move more quickly past information they might not need.
5. Answer questions and educate the buyer
Next, answer any questions the customer may have. After the presentation, be sure to send any information they request or that seemed pertinent. Building trust with the customer, displaying professionalism, and demonstrating your knowledge of your products can help them want to work with you again.
6. Make sale or provide contact opportunity
By communicating with them, make it as simple as possible for the customer to buy your product. By staying in touch with them and monitoring their business requirements to see if there might be a new opportunity to reach out to them, you could create opportunities for a future sale if they decide not to buy right away.
Following are some pointers for the soft sell procedure:
Practice active listening
Active listening is the process of paying attention to someone else in order to understand and remember what they are saying. This can entail reducing both internal and external interruptions and distractions during a conversation, such as using your phone and trying to prepare responses and comments. Additionally, it entails using hospitable body language to make the speaker feel at ease. There are many methods for developing active listening skills, such as asking insightful questions and having key points repeated to ensure understanding, so you can pick the ones that feel most natural to you.
Build personal relationships
Since soft selling focuses on trust and establishing personal connections with customers, creating lasting relationships with them is crucial. With a soft sell philosophy, you don’t have to be concerned with closing deals as soon as possible, which allows you to show a genuine interest in your clients’ families, hobbies, backgrounds, and interests. If you struggle to recall these details, think about taking brief notes about your conversations to go over before your next connection.
Ask good questions
You can more effectively learn about your customers and their needs by developing your ability to ask good questions. Working backward from what you want to know, such as whether or not the product they currently have meets their needs or whether any particular features are significant to them, is one strategy for developing better questions. Then, you can ask general inquiries like “What product are you using right now?” before moving on to more focused inquiries.
Following the cues of the person you are speaking with is yet another way to improve your questions. You may inquire about anything they bring up to learn why it is significant to them. You may inquire about earlier topics, whether they were personal or professional, as you get to know them better so that they feel important.
Offering customers something they find valuable is one way to keep their interest between sales or before they decide to make a purchase from you. This could be as simple as including helpful details about market trends and tools in your product pitches or demonstrations. This could come in the form of additional marketing materials that your company creates in a long-term soft sell strategy. Making educational or entertaining webinars, videos, podcasts, or blog posts can increase your audience’s eagerness to read your emails and hear from you.
Give customers time
Giving customers time to think about their options is one of the most effective ways to provide them with a low-pressure experience. Customers can feel more at ease about making their own decision if you communicate less frequently than you would with a hard sell strategy.
Stay in contact until and after the sale
Maintaining casual, friendly contact with customers is crucial because relationships are essential for the soft sell strategy. You might occasionally email the customer prior to a sale to check-in, determine whether their needs are the same as yours, and see if you can address any questions. You might send the occasional email and engage in professional social media interactions following the sale.
Expand your soft sell approach
Outside of your particular sales funnel and individual customer relationships, you can employ the soft sell strategy. You could produce marketing materials that are less overtly promotional of your goods, such as videos or print materials that are beneficial to the demographics of your target market. These can build brand recognition, remind clients of your business, and add value outside of your core product offerings.
What is an example of a soft sell?
When an online retailer notices that a customer has abandoned a shopping cart with several items in it, they may engage in soft selling by sending them an email to find out if they had any issues or if they needed any help or guidance.
What is soft sell and hard sell?
A hard sell is an effort to persuade the customer to act right away. In contrast, a soft sell is a gradual approach. A salesperson who uses soft selling is deliberate and patient. They are gaining knowledge about the client, their requirements, worries, and value perceptions.
What is soft sell and hard sell example?
Hard sell calls to action include expressions like “buy now before time runs out,” “limited time only,” “don’t miss out,” and “get yours now before it’s too late.” Though the distinction is frequently subtle, soft sell calls to action are typically less vehement or compelling.