In last week’s blog, we covered the differences between the hard sell and soft selling. The soft sales approach is a more indirect approach, using subtle persuasion. It is centred around building trust and rapport with the prospect.
The soft sales approach isn’t passive. You need to put in a lot of work to keep the prospect moving in the right direction. Looking at how you can add value to a prospect, it may be sharing relevant content with them or interacting with them online. Bear in mind, that you are not asking for a sale with every communication. You are just keeping yourself visible to the prospect.
Research your industry and prospects
Before you start approaching different prospects, learn about your industry inside-out. Know what the challenges are within your industry and how they might apply to your top target prospects. Look at your solution and see how it can solve the problem and what differentiates you over your competitors.
When you do start talking to prospects, learn about their current challenges and what is keeping them up at night. Look at how you can solve that problem with your solution. And if you can’t solve the problem, maybe make a few recommendations before exiting that conversation.
Be a human
Personality can go a long way in building rapport. You don’t want to come across stiff or needy in your communications. You want to be genuine, empathetic and conversational. When adopting the soft sales approach, you need to let go of the script and take a more casual or consultative tone. Think of yourself as offering advice and guidance to the prospect as opposed to selling to them outright.
Put yourself in the prospects shoes, how do you want to be sold to? Do you want a cold hard pitch? Or would you prefer someone you trust talking you through your options?
Build a strong relationship
Trying to close a deal with someone you have no rapport with is a real challenge. Get to know your prospect, not just their business, take the time to get to know the person. Show a genuine interest in them; it can be as simple as remembering something they said about their family, hobby or the team that they support.
When you couple building a relationship with actively listening to the prospect, you will build trust quickly. Your prospect will feel heard and you will be seen as a credible advisor as opposed to just another sales rep.
Add value to the prospect by offering impartial advice, recommendations or sharing relevant content that is going to be of interest to them. Don’t ask for the sale in the same communication. Keep it separate while you are building the relationship. This is all about keeping yourself top of mind and visible while making your prospect feel special.
Take a step back
When you get to the point where your prospect is considering your proposal, take a step back. Let them have some time and space to discuss your offering with their team and consider it thoroughly. Give them a time when you will be calling to follow up. When you do follow up, offer to answer questions that they have. Don’t launch straight into the hard close.
The soft sales approach is a fine art. Leave the pressure, urgency and scarcity tactics to one side and focus on building trust and rapport.
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