Both the hard sell and the soft sell have their place in the salesperson’s toolbox. Deciding which one to use will depend on your personality, the industry you work in and the prospects you tend to attract.
The hard sell
A hard sell is a more direct approach to asking for the sale. It may start with a cold email asking to schedule a phone call. It may then lead to an invitation to do a demo or a sales presentation. Then it will be the salesperson asking for the close. They push for the sale. It is a direct, straight to the point approach. Either the prospect says yes or no, and the salesperson moves on.
Classic hard-selling comes with a sense of urgency built-in, like an expiring offer or limited availability. It can be a huge motivator to purchase for some prospects, and it often works well.
The soft sell
The soft sell is a more indirect approach, using subtle persuasion. The salesperson focuses on building trust with the prospect so that they have a good relationship. The soft sale may start with liking or commenting on a few LinkedIn posts. After a few weeks, they might send you a message to introduce themselves. After they learn more about your business, they may offer to ask for a demo and tailor their sales presentation to your company’s objectives. They nurture you to a point where asking for the close is the next natural step.
When a sales rep takes a soft-sell approach, they need to be persistent, not passive. They can’t rest on their laurels and wait for the business to close. They need to maintain visibility. Maybe it’s just a case of staying active on social media or sending a regular email with relevant updates to the prospect.
The blended sell
Sometimes using a combination of hard and soft selling can be the best option. Let’s say you start with the soft sell; you comment on LinkedIn a few times, then you send a message, you do the pitch. The prospect seems keen, and it looks like it’s going to close. But then it stalls. And it stalls some more. You continue with the soft approach, gently nudging it in the right direction, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
It may be time to kick it up a gear. It might be time to start adopting a harder sales approach. That doesn’t mean you ramp up the pressure immediately. But you need to begin setting the expectation that the close is coming, and soon. It will either trigger the prospect to say no, and you can walk away. Or it triggers the deal to close, and you can move forward with your client.
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