All of us have been subjected to cold calls, email campaigns and plethora of ad copies that internet is flooded with. Do you pay attention to the caller, if you get a call from a bank about their new loan scheme? Or to ad copies that are infused with call to action buttons like “Buy Now” or “Don’t miss the deal”? The truth is that none of us like to be persuaded especially by organizations who are trying to sell its product or services.
The world of marketing and sales is evolving and with it selling techniques have changed too. More and more salespeople are choosing soft selling techniques over aggressive pitching or hard selling. There is a stark difference between the two.
We ourselves would have experienced hard selling as it is the most common form of selling technique employed by salespeople. Hard selling most of the times is frightfully direct, reminding you of the offer with urgency being focal point of the pitch. On the other side, soft selling is sophisticated way of selling with relationship building being the focus of conversation.
Elements of soft sales
Soft sales have following elements:
- First of all, it is a conversation and not a sales pitch. A two way conversation between the salesperson and the prospect. The salesperson, instead of getting into the nitty gritty of features, deals, negotiations etc., allows the prospect to tell his/ her story.
- Soft sales is not about cold calling or showing urgency. It is much more guaranteed and trusted way of selling because the salesperson comes with full preparation after doing research on prospects.
- Relationship building with the prospect or customer is the essence of soft selling technique.
- Generally organizations selling products or services with huge ticket size need to have soft sell approach. This is because they will be talking to the decision makers/ stakeholders/ business owners on prospects side.
So, we can say that soft selling is “we can help you” and not “hurry, our offer is expiring”.
Important Soft Selling Techniques
If you want to sound different in your selling techniques, it is advisable to adopt soft sell approach as soon as possible. Here is how you can use soft selling more often:
1) Focus on building relationship with existing and potential clients
Relationship building and management should be the priority of your salespeople when they are on the field. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that B2B businesses thrive on keeping up with prospects and forecasting existing customers needs. This is an important and desired soft selling technique where your salesperson’s interpersonal skills come into play.
2) Use your existing clients testimonials
Don’t just let the testimonials, positive feedback about your product and services sit in your website. Use them to get more clients on board. This can be achieved by reinforcing the testimonials, words of appreciation in ad copies, on billboards, blog posts, emails etc.
3) Give time to the prospect to think about your proposition
What this means is that just don’t bombard your prospect’s inbox with follow up emails or several calls post the demo. Whereas follow ups are important and you don’t want to lose your potential client to the competitors. So, you need to tread cautiously and do subtle follow ups.
4) Don’t stalk the prospect
Yes, technology has diffused rapidly and we get followed by banners of the sites that we visited, cold calls and emails. Everyone who is on the sales side is trying to gain attention from every possible nook and corner. But if you want to be taken seriously by your prospects don’t stalk them. Give them space and time. How? This is answered in the next point.
5) Use technology to automate and integrate
Instead of cold calling and sending persuasive emails, use customer engagement platform to improve communication strategies. These platforms can help you set some rules before a relevant email is triggered at various touch points.
You can also automate tracking pipeline changes and follow the developments closely. In essence, you automate large segments of the customer engagement process while still being kept in the loop.
6) Set the stage to tell the story
This can be easily done by inviting both your prospects and existing customers for conferences and seminars hosted by your organization. Give opportunity to your existing customer to speak on your behalf. Yes, be the showman.
7) Sell through stories and case studies
Train your salespeople who are going to be the face of your product and organization to be storytellers. This is another soft selling technique where the prospect is gently walked through their own needs. You can always talk how the prospect’s competitors gained big chunk of market share after investing in your product/ service.
8) Invest resources in doing research
This is called preparing before shaking hands with the prospects. Good research on your prospect will help you control the conversation. This doesn’t mean that you will not let the prospect talk. Rather allow the prospect talk first and once they finish you can mildly drive the conversation. This is what soft selling is, after all! Apart from this through research you yourself will get convinced why the target needs your product or service.
Hence, soft selling is more calculative and assured way of selling. We say calculative and assured because substantial time and resources are spent in doing research. Based on this persona is developed, case studies, personalized content, emailers are designed to get the first appointment to demo.
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