My Son and Daughter-in- Law own and operate an extraordinary ‘network marketing ‘business. They are very successful by any measure.
I was discussing sales with them and they both said their sales philosophy has always been about ‘soft selling.’ I asked what they meant and this is my understanding of what they had to say-
Do you or any of your team sometimes find it hard to close the sale?
Do you get a little shaky asking the question ‘so are you ready to go ahead?’ and despite all your hard work the results aren’t showing up at the end of each month.
If this rings true perhaps you could change the way you look at creating sales.
It’s easy to ‘put the chicken before the egg’ when trying to make a sale, you become so focused on the end result that you forget the importance of how to actually get there. There are many different sales techniques out there and whilst I’m not a big fan of labelling them for the sake of the point I’m trying to make in this newsletter, I am going to call it by its name ‘soft selling’.
Soft selling is defined as a sales philosophy oriented towards identifying the customer’s needs and wants, through probing questions and careful listening.
Soft selling focuses on the relationship-building aspect of sales. You don’t put psychological pressure on potential buyers. Instead, you find passive ways to show them that you have the solutions they’re looking for…
“Business, after all, is nothing more than a bunch of human relationships.”
- Lee Iacocca: Former Chrysler Chairman, Former Ford President
A study released by New Century Media in October 2007 showed the buying behaviour of people after they were exposed to informational and educational resources — that were actually soft selling efforts from a range of businesses.
According to the study, consumers were 30% more willing to buy a product through non-direct advertising (person to person) rather than media advertising.
Not only that, consumers exposed to this method of advertising were 97% more likely to tell their friends about it, and 95% more likely to repeat their experience with the business. The technique of soft selling is very effective in generating return business and strengthening that all important trust factor with your clients.
A client of ours shared this experience with me recently:
‘I had a customer make another purchase from me the other day and at the point of sale the customer said to me that he was not planning on purchasing — but I had such a persuasive ‘soft selling’ technique that he decided to go ahead.
At first I was shocked as I wasn’t actually thinking of selling anything, I was just asking questions, listening carefully to the answers and responding with helpful and relevant information about the product and its benefits. It seems that the sale then happened sort of — organically’
This is a great example of how not getting too far ahead of yourself and focusing more on the prospects wants and needs actually clears the path towards the eventual sale and opens up the possibility of subsequent sales.
Here are some ways you can implement a more relationship focused approach to your sales.
· Believe In It — Make sure you are trying to sell something you truly care about. Passion can be infectious, especially when it comes to soft selling.
· Relaxed Networking — Try to network with the main purpose of forming relationships, nothing else. This is also a great way to remove some of the ‘networking pressure.’
· Build Relationships — Make relationship marketing the foundation of your marketing activities, so your relationship focus goes through all elements of your business.
· Open Networking — Be open to networking with everyone, even those outside of your defined target. If your focus is on relationships first, you never know when a connection will turn into a business relationship.
· White Glove Treatment — Treat your existing clients like gold to set the stage for referrals that support your soft selling approach.
· Make It Emotional — Try storytelling to appeal to your prospect’s emotions, make yourself more memorable and share a personal anecdote.
· Give It Away — Share valuable information for free, no strings attached.
· A Quiet Approach — Use a gentle call to action when you do make a pitch that’s passive, non-aggressive and conversational. “I’m excited to start working together with you on this project, when can we get started”?
· Do Your Research — Get to know as much as you can about the prospect and their needs. This will not only strengthen your relationship, but it will help you determine if your product/service is appropriate for him/her.
· Join Forces — Be open to collaborating for the networking and learning benefits, even if there is not a guaranteed financial gain.
· Open the Door — Provide access to your marketing information but let your prospects digest it on their own.
This is list of things I endeavour to follow — and so far it’s working.
Don’t get me wrong, sales is not all hugs and rainbows and the time always comes for a call to action but by forgetting about the end result and focusing on the journey of selling — before you know it the sales will be coming to you.
A good rule is ‘person first — client second.’
Good Luck and (always) Good Selling
PS. UPYOURS by the way. UP your relationship building and ‘soft-selling’ approach and watch those sales ‘come to you.’