Have you ever heard a salesperson or business owner say,“I only do soft selling?” or, “I get better results with hard selling.”

This week in our 100 in 1 Book Challengewe are reading Stephan Schiffman’s, The 25 Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople and it really got me thinkin’…

Hard seller or a soft seller, which one are you?

First what’s the difference between the two:

Soft seller: selling a product or service by using subtle persuasion.

Hard seller: selling a product or service using a more direct, forceful, and overt approach.

Now that we understand the difference here are some questions to consider:

1. Is one approach better than the other?

  • Hard selling gets straight to the point both seller and user understand this and expect it. Hard selling is for customers that are ready to buy and don’t need to look around or comparison shop. The problem is when the seller is aggressive and the buyer is not, it comes across as offensive and most often the seller does not close the sell. Understanding your customer will give you clues as to when to apply this approach.
  • Soft selling is based more on relationship building. Salespeople find passive methods to show potential customers what they have to offer. This is a non-direct approach and has value as long as you are not perceived to be “too soft.” The benefit is in the process you create loyal brand champions.

The answer: It’s depends on the situation. You gotta be flexible and assess each customer. It’s the reason why you ask questions and listen attentively. After gathering the information you can then make an informed decision on which approach will work best for the customer.

2. Does industry play a factor in soft or hard selling? Certain industries are more prone to hard selling, direct sales, telemarketing, rental car insurance, car & insurance sales, 100 percent commission based work and retail stores. Soft selling takes time, so industries with longer selling cycles will use this method for example, consultants, manufacturing, marketing, construction, and architect firms.

3. Does one have a higher closing rate over the other? New Century Media released a study and the results were through soft selling, 30 percent more customers were willing to buy the product, while 97% were more likely to tell their friends and 95 percent were more likely to be repeat customers.

So what’s my point?

Selling is both art and science. Yes there are certain industries prone to using one approach versus the other. At the end of the day you must know and understand your target market and customer base and present your products and service according to your sales and marketing strategies. If you are not effective in your efforts it does not matter if you choose the soft or hard selling approach.

In my opinion selling boils down to a couple of factors:

  • Are you solving a problem or meeting a need?
  • Are you authentic with your customers?
  • Are you building lasting relationships?
  • Can your brand and products be trusted?

One final thought…

Hard selling or soft selling one thing is for certain, “If YOU wouldn’t buy it, YOU shouldn’t sell it!”