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Practical Tips on How to Master the Soft Sell

June 24, 2021
Practical Tips on How to Master the Soft Sell

Today, 97% of buyers go online to research companies and their products or services.

What does that mean for businesses?

Buyers are more educated than they have ever been in the past and no longer want to be sold to. They don’t need to be told what a product can offer; they already know it.

As a result, the modern salesperson needs to change their sales approach. Sales reps must now use their soft skills to create lifelong relationships with customers instead of aggressively selling products.

And what’s the best way to do this?
By employing a soft-sell approach.

In this article, I’ll explain what the soft sell is, how it differs from the hard sell, and give you tips to master this approach.

Tip #1. Perform in-depth research

Before you reach out to your prospect, learn as much as you can about their goals and challenges.

This gives you a clear understanding of how you can help your customer achieve these goals or overcome their challenges.

Here are some of the things you should do:

  • Perform in-depth research on the company or individual you’re hoping to engage. This demonstrates your commitment, improves your credibility, and gives you the information you need to offer specific, practical solutions to your customers.
  • Communicate with your advertising partners to gain insights into what your target audience finds appealing. You could also analyze site usage and your best traffic sources to understand what resources on your website the prospect finds interesting and focus on highlighting them during your interactions.

This way, when you eventually begin to do business with your prospects, you’ll be better positioned to make recommendations as you’ll know more about the prospect’s unique needs.

Tip #2. Employ active listening

Active listening is one of the secrets to effective soft selling.

Not only does it make the prospect feel heard, valued, and respected, it also helps a salesperson understand if the prospect is actually a great fit for their offerings.

Here are some active listening techniques you can use when interacting with prospects:

  1. Listen with genuine interest to what your prospect tells you. This is more about hearing what the prospect says to understand their needs and challenges rather than looking for an opportunity to respond. Let the prospect talk first, and you can use what they’ve mentioned to steer the conversation.
  2. Paraphrase what the prospect said. The goal here is to convey your understanding of their situation. When your prospect tells you something important about their challenge or goal, confirm your understanding by saying what they’ve told you in your own words. This will create an immediate impression on your prospect and make them feel heard.
  3. Confirm you’ve understood the prospect. After you’ve conveyed your understanding of their situation, ask them if you’ve understood their goals and challenges accurately. If they answer no, you have the chance to improve your understanding with follow-up questions, like asking them to clarify what you may have missed.
  4. Ask relevant follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of their situation. Ask open-ended questions that encourage the prospect to share more about their goals or challenges. The benefit of open-ended questions is that the prospect can convey how they feel in their own words and on their own terms.
  5. Pay attention to more than their words. This means going beyond just hearing what they’re saying. Pay attention to their language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language to pick up subtle cues that’ll help you understand their needs better.

Tip #3. Build positive relationships

Fostering positive relationships is at the core of soft-sell advertising.

Take the time to get to know your prospects.

With time, the lead will begin to see you as a trusted advisor and will be in a much better position to make a purchase.

How do you build positive relationships?

Don’t dive straight into talking about business.

Instead, take a few minutes to get to know them personally. It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated process; you could start with a simple “how has your day been?”

Doing so will show your prospect you have a genuine interest in them.

Tip #4. Give your prospects enough time and space

Another core aspect of soft selling is to allow your prospects the space they need to make their own decision. Do not try and bombard them with sales emails and calls right away.

Instead, send the prospect relevant information that will help their decision-making process without pressuring them to make a purchase.

It’s generally a good tactic to wait about 48-72 hours before contacting them again. And when you do reach out, check if they have any further questions or if you can provide them with more relevant content to help them out.

What’s an easy way to reach out appropriately?

With an email marketing tool, you can schedule your outreach emails to send at just the time you need, or you can set a trigger to send an email once your prospect has taken a specific action.

Tip #5. Be friendly

While it’s important always to remain professional, you don’t need to be overly formal when communicating with potential customers.

Be empathetic in your communication and offer genuine recommendations to help the prospect solve their problem. Your personality will play a significant role when making a soft-sell sales pitch.

Additionally, keep a conversational tone during your meetings to make yourself more approachable. You can easily achieve this by not directly reading from a sales script or following your presentation word-for-word. Alternatively, you could begin with a personal anecdote they shared in a previous meeting.

You can also use email marketing tools to personalize your emails automatically, reflecting each prospect’s needs accurately. Doing so will create a more natural and casual conversation.

Tip #6. Ensure mutual benefit

Soft selling is as much about the prospect as it is about making a sale.

In essence, it’s about creating a win-win situation.

Sure, you benefit from their purchase. But if the customer leaves feeling pleased, you also benefit from a better brand image, potentially increased brand awareness, and knowing you might have created a long-term customer.

The prospect benefits, too, as they feel like they’ve left with the right product and are happy about the decision they made.

However, a big part of soft selling is knowing when to walk away if the deal isn’t right.

Remember, if you sell someone something that they don’t need, they probably won’t renew the contract, won’t purchase any cross-sells, and won’t refer your product to their friends or family.