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Hard Selling or Soft Selling – Which is the best approach for you?

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

You've probably experienced the hard sell: asking for the sale directly to close as fast as possible. On the other hand, a soft sale is somewhat different and needs a bit more dexterity. We'll walk you through the art of soft selling in this post. But first, let's juxtapose that with the hard sell.

Hard Selling

A hard sale is intended to persuade a customer to buy a product or service right away. Salespeople that utilize hard-sell methods frequently use pressure and emotion to complete the sale. According to some sales gurus, a hard sell is a high-pressure, aggressive strategy that has gone out of favour.

A hard sell strategy used to sell an automobile, for example, can emphasize the limited availability of the specific model, how other people are waiting to buy the vehicle, and how prices may rise if the buyer walks off the lot. Hard selling is sometimes connected with unethical salespeople who may seek to misinform, conceal information from, or even lie to the consumer.

Soft Selling

Soft selling, on the other hand, is a completely different technique that stresses the quality of your relationship with your prospects over the speed with which you can close the deal. So, just what is a soft sell?

A soft sell is a sales strategy that relies on gentle persuasion and informal language. A soft-sell strategy aims to provide the prospect with a low-pressure sales experience that is less likely to turn them off due to excessive pushiness.

It is vital to understand that "soft sale" does not imply "passive." Though they may not ask for the sale right away, sales representatives who employ a soft-sell strategy must be persistent throughout the sales process and educated about the product or service they are delivering to build their credibility.

Hard Selling vs Soft Selling

A soft sale is a method of encouraging a consumer to purchase a product or service using an indirect approach. A hard sell is a direct approach to selling. A soft-sell strategy requires sales representatives to focus on developing relationships with prospects rather than pressing for the sale. Hard selling is a more direct strategy in which a sales representative attempts to seal the deal as quickly as feasible.

Soft Selling Methodology

1. Do your study.

2. Be friendly.

3. Concentrate on building the relationship.

4. Listen attentively to your prospects.

5. Inquire intelligently.

6. Provide value without demanding a sell.

7. Enable your prospects to make their own decisions.

Let's go through seven methods for simplifying the soft sale.

1. Do your study.

To begin, discover everything you can about the prospect's existing problems and point of view. This will assist you in determining whether the product or service you are selling is a suitable fit for the customer and will allow you to make the best suggestion possible.

For example, if you work in B2B SaaS sales and sell to organizations, before contacting a client who manages the buying process, conduct thorough research about the organization, types of services they provide, possible reasons for requiring your SaaS product, participants in the buying process, current services and their strengths & weaknesses, current cost, other options, and decision-makers. Then design a plan on how will you approach, who will your approach, what is the purpose of contact, meetings, and discussions, how will you respond to queries and doubts, and how will you proceed through their buying process to reach the final stage and the deal maker in case you need to use it. So that you understand their priorities and challenges and can present your services as one of the best solutions.

2. Be friendly.

While you should always be professional while working with prospects, you should also avoid being stiff or over-the-top in your communication. Friendliness will go a long way when it comes to soft selling. This includes being compassionate in your communication approach, making real advice to assist the prospect to solve their problem, and maintaining a conversational tone to provide relatability.

For example, when engaging with prospects utilizing a soft-sell strategy, avoid reading verbatim from a script or following presentations word for word. You want your communication to be informal and conversational. Make your delivery feel more like friendly advice than a cold sales pitch.

Which communication style would you prefer if you were the prospect? The choice of someone talking at you and pushing their agenda, or the two-way interaction that prioritizes your needs? You and your prospects are likely to identify more with the latter.

3. Concentrate on building the relationship.

It is vital to cultivate excellent relationships with prospects to close the sale and establish loyalty. When you take the time to get to know your prospects and establish yourself as a trusted advisor, they will be more likely to buy from you.

For example, while connecting with a prospect, take the time to learn about them as a person rather than getting right into business in each interaction.

It may be as basic as remembering to inquire how their day went or following up on a personal story they discussed during a previous meeting. On a human level, this demonstrates a real interest in the prospect.

4. Listen attentively to your prospects.

Active listening is critical for sales representatives. Improve your active listening abilities by doing the following:

  • Listen carefully to what your prospect has to say.

  • Restate the content to the prospect.

  • Ensure that you comprehend them accurately by asking for clarification and obtaining vocal confirmation from the prospect after presenting the information back to them.

  • When your prospects feel heard, it increases their trust in you, allowing you to do the soft sale and deliver a solution that they require.

  • If you are meeting face-to-face, use active listening by using open body language while listening to your prospects. And, during virtual meetings, minimize multitasking so that your prospect has your entire focus.

  • Finally, try not to interrupt them while they are speaking.

5. Inquire intelligently.

When you ask your prospect pertinent, open-ended questions, you exhibit a genuine interest in assisting them in resolving their problem. In addition, asking questions allows you to get to know and create rapport with your prospects.

For example, if your prospect shares a problem they're having with your service during a call, use open-ended questions (i.e., questions that can't be replied with "yes" or "no") to get the whole picture of their issue.

Again, this demonstrates a genuine interest in the prospect's experience, which aids in gaining their trust and understanding the complete context of their predicament.

6. Provide value without demanding a sell.

To add value for a prospect is to go above and beyond to offer them a positive experience – even if it does not result in a sale right away. Finally, you want to demonstrate that they are top of mind to your prospect.

For example, if you talked with a prospect who mentioned that they are having difficulty convincing leadership to authorize funds for the purchase, you might give them useful information with recommendations for navigating budget negotiations with their management.

7. Enable your prospects to make their own decisions

Allow your prospect to consider whether your offering is the best option for them as they make their choice. Finally, while using a soft-sell strategy, your prospect should only get essential information from you that will assist inform their choice without feeling compelled to buy.

Practicing this by taking a step back while they consider might empower them to own their decision, to give them 48 hours before checking in again.

When you contact them, offer to address any queries that may have emerged during that period or provide relevant documents to assist them in making a decision. Again, you want to deliver value consistently, as mentioned in the previous point (6).

It takes time to figure out which selling method is the most effective for your business. Effective sales representatives understand how to adjust their sales strategy to interact with their prospects. Once you've mastered that ability, you'll be able to close the deal in any situation.

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