What is “Soft Selling?” Simply put it is the alternative and considerable opposite of the hard sell. The soft sell employs an approach more relaxed than straightforward. Across all forums, searches and inquiries there is one word that keeps coming back in conversation: subtlety.
This approach relies heavily on the ability of the salesperson to use nuance and their communicative ability to fetter out the proper and easiest path to sell the product. While both hard and soft selling could be equated to water – think something akin to the old Bruce Lee adage about water.
Soft selling in this sense is “becoming the cup.” Ascertaining the shape of your client’s needs and filling them appropriately based on the situation. While hard selling brings the client toward becoming accustomed to you, soft selling requires the salesman to become suited to the client.
In essence, there are three parts to an effective soft sell. Here is the general basis of soft selling listed below.
- Ask Questions
- Ascertain the Client’s Needs
- Offer Appropriate Targeted Feedback
1. Asking Questions
Asking questions acts in essence to lay the groundwork for the rest of the sale. To keep the running theme of this article going, this is Jordan Belfort selling the pen – section starts at 1:36. This is the part where the needs of the client are assessed so that the proper service or product can be matched to the client. Salesmen are pushy facilitators – not con men.
By connecting the dots of needs and wants to purchase potential they are selling themselves time and likelihood of money. This is true of both soft and hard sales. Needs must be assessed and highly important and specific questions are necessary to properly figure out those desires. After this, it goes to the salesmen to listen well and think fast. This is where sales skills come into play.
2. Ascertaining the Client’s Needs
Largely done by positing the right questions as they appear in conversation, in this part the salesmen will begin building a profile of the buyer. I’m sure there’s a “Criminal Minds” reference here but it’s not really appropriate. By beginning to understand the client you can properly navigate them through and around your inventory. What time frame, what expense level, and maybe even what item they should be buying in the first place.
In this, a skilled salesman simultaneously operates passively in a conversation, while also formatting and effectively “cross-referencing” that with the inventory he’s able to capably move. Knowing the client’s needs is what will help you facilitate them toward the goal. This once again is part of both hard and soft selling.
3. Offer Appropriate Targeted Feedback (the Close)
This is the most distinguished difference existing between the two camps of hard and soft sales. Hard sales produce the offer in what is ultimately a more or less take-it-or-leave-it option. There can be possibilities for negotiation. But, these salespeople are here to close with that being the prime and typically only of their objectives. This is often referenced as the preferred method for short-term selling. Yet it can permeate into a long future of consumer/proprietor relationships.
Soft selling rather offers a more “friendly” consultation angle. Instead focusing on building a relationship and pursuing potential sales opportunities in the established relationship as they appear down the road. For your buzzword think, consultation.
This is the opportunity to implement the “Soft Sell” into your selling style. With all business and life, relationships are maintained through a mutual exchange of value. Be it real or perceived value is necessary. When working in a Brand to Brand (B2B) type business especially, the displayed value is often the best and most readily accepted way to present value within a company.
It’s free value, “it’s free real estate.” Offering a much more open consultation about services and products that can fit presented needs gives some salesmen an out for their conscience as you are providing an informed service.
Additionally, soft selling tendencies can also be employed freely in any form where a salesman opts to take a backseat and shelf their more assertive sales tactics. Once again opting to listen and inform the prospective buyer’s decision. This is an extremely employable method across the board that can and should be used in conjunction with hard selling to best navigate any tepid or tumultuous sale.