Sales Channel Expert Tips for Mastering the Soft Sale

If you have a sales team, one of the most important things you need to teach them these days is the art of the soft sale. The reason many people hate to talk to a salesperson is that they associate sales with high-pressure, hard closes. So it's no surprise that many businesses are finding that a softer, more customer-centered approach to sales leads them to happier customers and better conversion rates. 

Even if your business is in an industry where hard selling remains effective, your sales team can benefit from learning some soft techniques, since soft closes are a great way to nudge prospects toward a hard sell later.

Here are some tips to help your sales representatives improve their soft selling skills.

Listen more than you talk

Yes, your product is wonderful, and your sales representatives probably have a lot to say about it. But it's important for them to give their prospects a chance to talk too. Only by listening can they learn what needs their prospects have, what concerns might keep them from buying, and what types of factors they find motivating.

In fact, it's not enough for your sales representatives to simply sit back and listen. They should be actively encouraging their prospects to talk by asking effective questions, and then following up for more information. 

Keep it focused on the customer

One of the wonderful results of asking questions is that it makes prospects feel that the sales representative is listening to them, and interested in helping meet their needs. As well as providing much needed information, focusing time and attention on a prospect's concerns is vital in building trust and rapport.

You have probably taught your sales team to talk about the benefits rather than the features of your product. And that's another important way to keep the sales presentation focused on the customer. Features are just facts about your product and what it does. Benefits are all the great things that will happen if the customer buys your product. It's important for your sales representatives to individualize their presentations to fit the needs of each prospect. Really focusing on the customer is one of the hallmarks of a good soft seller.

Don't be afraid to close more than once

One of the advantages of soft selling is that your sales representatives don't have to stake it all on building up to one high-pressure close. Instead, they can test the waters and nudge their prospects toward saying yes through sprinkling multiple soft sells throughout the presentation. 

Soft closes enable the sales representative to gather more information about potential obstacles and objections, as well as helping the prospect to begin imagining what it would be like to have the product. Good soft-selling lines keep the pressure off, while keeping dialogue open and creating an atmosphere of possibilities. It helps customers to feel that the sales person is a helpful resource, rather than a pushy salesperson.

What to Say? 

In your sales meetings, be sure to present your sales team with concrete examples of good soft closes they can use during a presentation. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

How would [product] address your needs?

This question doesn't directly ask for the sale; it simply invites the prospect to think about what your product could do for his or her company. With luck, your sales representatives may find their prospects selling themselves!

Is there anything that would prevent you from signing up today?

Again, this question doesn't directly ask for business. Instead, it gives the prospect a chance to voice any concerns or objections he or she might have, allowing your sales representative to address those concerns and objections and hopefully move closer to the sale.

Does [X] or [Y] sound like a better option for your company?

This cleverly worded question gives the prospect a choice between two versions of your product. Of course, he or she could always respond that neither is a good option. However, offering two options increases the chances that the prospect will say yes to one or the other. It subtly creates the assumption that your prospect buying is a foregone conclusion. However, if he or she really wants to say no, it does leave a graceful way out for both prospect and sales representative.

Having your sales team learn and practice these types of soft selling techniques one of the best ways you can increase their overall effectiveness and keep your company's sales results in line with your objectives. Could you use help with your sales training program? Netpique offers a range of solutions, from training support to full service sales channel solutions.