While marketing and sales support each other, they are quite different things.
Marketing communicates the satisfaction of a potential customer’s wants and needs. Sales, on the other hand, helps marketing to convert the leads from its communications into actual customers. These two areas work together closely and impact each other.
Marketing teams often get caught up in making their message short and pushy to find, capture and convert a lead in one or a few short sessions – the hard sell. This approach can work, but it is important to know when to use it. For instance, this may be best for a cheaper product or service or when the prospect really needs your product. Example: purchasing a spare tire when the potential customer has a flat.
It’s important to note that times are changing.
Prospective clients aren’t only looking at cost but now heavily consider a combination of overall value and experience. As such, customers may take longer to decide on a final purchase.
Enter the soft sell.
Consumer education is paramount regardless of what prompted a potential customer to consider your product or who will make that final purchase decision. For this reason, an omnichannel approach to marketing coupled with content marketing can be greatly beneficial even if we choose to do some hard selling via selected channels.
An omnichannel marketing approach uses lead nurturing and user engagement tactics, giving prospects access and insight to their products, offers, and support services on all or some channels, platforms, and devices. Potential clients can then better understand the value of the products through their own assessment of overall quantity, quality, experience, time, product benefits and cost. All this takes place while they build a rapport with the brand. This experience is key to maintaining a client relationship overall which can save your business valuable advertising dollars in its customer acquisition activities.
Developing a relationship with your customers also means that if there is an issue with a product or service, they may not feel as slighted. The opportunity exists to resolve the problem and maintain that good relationship, as the initial purchasing decisions were made based on trust and evaluation (usually by more than one stakeholder).
How do you accomplish the soft sell?
Sell a solution, not just a product
Assessing your client’s situation and then pitching your product to satisfy a need or want is likely to lead to a more positive outcome for your business. Sometimes the value of your product is not communicated in just the product benefits or brand experience but by sharing how it works as a stepstone towards achieving sometimes smaller or even larger goals for your client’s organisation or business.
Apply sales pressure in stages: hard sell at the end
Prospects want to feel in control of their purchase decisions. People and businesses no longer leave decisions to one person but often to a specific decision-making team. Communicate the benefits of your products and find ways of appealing to the emotions of the decision-makers. Dig deep to explain the benefits that most affect their areas or challenges. Of course, do not forget the bottom line: to bring in revenue by raising product (or service awareness) if the opportunity presents itself. Your goal then is not to have the product be seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ but rather a necessity for the efficiency and effectiveness of a business with a fair case for purchase. This creates the fear of missing out more subtly and can be further emphasised in your content strategy.
Building your content strategy and integrating thought-provoking pieces offers originality while brand essence creates value along the way. It really is an art to capture your audience in multiple ways without overwhelming them. Consider partnering with an agency that has the resources to collaborate with you. Developing, producing and optimising content that aligns with your goals, audience and brand all while being engaging can be daunting, especially if your team is small or limited in skills.
If your sales team does want to take on a soft selling approach, then ensure your marketing efforts and channels contain elements of hard sells but are also padded with soft selling techniques. An example of this approach could be engaging your prospect through email marketing campaigns. A campaign could include a limited-time offer, as well as a demo or product walk-through video. Allow your sales team to follow up with calls, and do not forget to remarket to these customers.
As a business owner or marketer, work with your sales team to understand your client, better appeal to their needs, and push them through your funnels. Often prospective clients know they want a specific outcome but do not understand the process involved in creating the desired result. This is where the soft sell comes in, gently guiding clients towards the answer to their challenges: your product.
Excerpt: It’s tempting to push your message and products in the market. You know they’re what your audience needs. But sales and marketing have undergone major changes over the years. Here’s why you need the soft sell.