What is soft selling and how to apply it? (With tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organisations employ several sales approaches to sell their products and services. Soft selling is a type of sales technique focusing on the buyer's requirements, desires and fears rather than the product. Understanding soft selling can help you improve sales and marketing efforts for your team. In this article, we answer the question 'What is soft selling and how to apply it?' and provide some tips to help you apply soft selling within business environments.

What is soft selling, and how to apply it?

The question 'What is soft selling and how to apply it?' possesses a variety of answers. Generally, soft selling is a type of sales practice that uses persuasion and enticement to make sales. A company's goal is to help customers feel comfortable with its services, so they may be more likely to buy from the business. Soft sell techniques may include using positive statements and questions and focusing on a product's or service's benefits to the customer rather than the price.

What is soft selling?

Soft selling is a sales technique that offers customers what they require to help them make purchase decisions without pressure. It's based on the idea that customers are more likely to buy if they feel the representative listens to and cares about them. The soft sell involves talking about the product or service in a way that isn't directly related to its sales benefits but helps you connect with the prospect on a more personal level. This technique establishes a connection with customers so they can feel comfortable sharing their requirements and goals with you.

Soft selling aims to allow the prospect to discover what they want, how they want and why they may want to buy a product. Professionals use soft selling in various settings, from one-to-one conversations to mass marketing campaigns. In this case, it would be beneficial to note that soft selling doesn't mean being unprofessional. This kind of selling involves using skills as a salesperson to help customers determine what they require before recommending any products or services.

Related: Sales technique: definition and types of sales techniques

How to apply soft selling within a business environment

Here are some steps you can follow to apply soft selling in a business environment successfully:

1. Understand the product

Soft selling isn't only about discussing the product. It's about knowing what makes it unique and interesting and then sharing it with a brand's audience. For example, suppose a company is trying to sell a coffee machine. Then, it's beneficial to know what makes the coffee machine unique. This may be its ability to make coffee faster than another brand's model or its ability to make lattes. Once you understand the product, convincing the company's prospects may be easier.

2. Build relationships

Soft selling works by building trust between two individuals who aren't necessarily trying to sell each other anything. It's beneficial to build a relationship with the customer, so they feel comfortable talking with you and want to buy from you. Not every customer may be ready for a hard sell, so not trying too hard in the first meeting may be critical.

First, establish a connection with the customer by sharing information about yourself and the company you represent. You can use this information to show interest in their requirements. Then, demonstrate your expertise by sharing knowledge or experience related to the product or service. This action may help reinforce the fact that you know what you're doing, which may help build trust between you.

Related: 10 ways to consistently offer good customer service

3. Consult the customers

The next step is to consult the customer. When you understand what the customer wants and how you can help them achieve their goal, you can then make recommendations. To do this effectively, you may listen carefully to what the customer has to say and then ask questions about those things that are unclear. For example, if a buyer wants a new laptop, ask them what kind of laptop they're currently using and what features they would look for in their new laptop. This action can help you determine which product is right for them or may fit their requirements.

Related: What are customer reviews, and why are they important?

4. Ask questions and listen

The next step in soft selling is asking questions and listening carefully to the answers customers give. This effort is important because it may give you insight into what they want. It also helps the customer feel like they possess control over the conversation and can answer your questions about their requirements or concerns.

5. Make recommendations

Recommendations are a useful tool for selling. You can use them to persuade customers to buy from the company you represent. They're also a good way to give clients more information about a product or service they're considering purchasing. After listening to the prospect, you can recommend a product based on what they say. This gives the impression that you truly understand their requirements.

6. Present the product or service

Once you determine which product would best suit their requirements, you can offer it to them. When you present the product or service, you may want to demonstrate that it may solve the customer's issue. You may tell them how good the product is, but also show them how it works. Demonstrations, sample products or pictures of the company's customers using the product or service are some ways to do this.

Related: Customer service skills: examples, definition and how to demonstrate

7. Offer assistance and keep communicating

This is a crucial step in soft selling because it allows you to continue communicating with customers after presenting the product or service. You can offer additional services, such as training sessions on similar products. Another option is to give them a customer service number where they can contact you if they have questions regarding a product or service or require more information about what the company is offering.

Related: Consultative selling: definition and potential careers

Hard selling vs. soft selling

The hard sell technique is another sales technique that's more direct and involves a shorter period. Here are some differences between soft sell and hard sell techniques:

Tactics

A hard sell salesperson may use competitive tactics, such as telling the prospect what they want to hear or a condition. For example, a salesperson may emphasise that an offer is a limited-time one. With soft sales, the agent typically ensures the prospect feels comfortable, considers their requirements and helps them make an informed decision.

Related: The difference between strategy vs. tactics in marketing

Customer pressure

Hard-sell techniques rely on the customer's sense of urgency to make a purchase. These techniques can be very effective but may not be appropriate for all customers. For example, some customers may not want to buy immediately or want to ensure that the products meet their requirements before purchasing anything. Soft-sell techniques may better suit these types of customers.

Knowledge of the product

Both techniques may be effective depending on the customer's previous knowledge of the product. Soft-sell techniques may be successful with a consumer without prior knowledge about the product or service. In contrast, hard-sell techniques are typically more effective with consumers already familiar with the product or service.

Tone

The hard sell is about making a sale, while the soft-sell techniques are usually about creating a relationship with the prospective buyer. Hard sell techniques tend to be dynamic and direct. With soft-sell techniques, representatives are typically more relaxed and persuasive.

Related: Definition of hard selling and how to use the technique

Tips on applying soft selling

Here are some additional tips to help you apply soft selling within a business environment:

  • Be genuine. Connecting with audiences is essential if you want them to buy from the brand you represent instead of competitors.

  • Make your customer feel comfortable. You can make them feel like they can easily discuss their requirements by listening to them and demonstrating empathy for their situation. This effort can help you to ask the right questions and gain insight into their requirements.

  • Be friendly. If you're friendly with customers, they may feel comfortable telling you what they want. Also, they may be more receptive to your suggestions on what may work for them.

  • Provide value. A great way to establish a good relationship is to help the prospect feel like they're getting value. Valuable content can include references, statistics and other relevant information that may help them decide what's best for them.

  • Offer tailored solutions. Propose solutions for each customer. You may try to design an experience that meets the requirements of each company's prospects and helps them achieve their goals.

  • Keep communicating after the sale. Once you make the sale, maintain a positive relationship with the customer, as this increases the chances of customer loyalty. You can contact them via email and phone calls once in a while.

Related:

  • What is SPIN selling? (Including definition and tips)



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