Today’s consumers can smell a hard sell approach miles away. And if a potential lead thinks you are trying this kind of technique on them, they’ll run, not walk, away. It’s usually ineffective and may even be insulting. People prefer you to recognize their intelligence. So focus on educating and stop hard selling.
Customers today are diametrically different from what they were in the past. They have all the information they need at their fingertips, and they’re willing to do their own research and find options that suit them. If a door-to-door salesperson from the 1970s suddenly time-traveled to today’s world, they would have to find a new job.
Why Stop Selling: Is the Hard Sell Approach Unethical?
Yes, it can be. If you’re using the hard selling techniques to pressure someone to purchase something that won’t fit their needs and solve their problem, this may be an unethical approach. This is especially true if you’re selling a big-ticket item or service.
Yes, there are circumstances where a hard sale isn’t unethical. However, potential customers may perceive it that way. And in marketing, perception is reality. Modern marketing is all about building a brand that people know and trust. They won’t trust you if they think you're trying to trick them.
Hard Sell vs. Soft Sell Advertising
Most of us already have an instinctive understanding of how hard selling and soft selling differ. What word do we think of when it comes to the hard sell? Without question, it’s pressure. Aggression is another big one. The hard sell depends on pressure and pushiness, creating a sense of urgency.
Think of salespeople from the mid to late 20th-century, and you’ll know what we mean by the hard sell. The hard sell is an old and obsolete sales technique, and most consumers know that. There aren’t many circumstances in which a hard sell approach will help you.
With soft sell, your goal is to educate first and help your customers solve a problem. Soft sell focuses mostly on inbound marketing, including content marketing and social media marketing. When you use soft sell, you put the customer and their needs first. Solving the customer’s problem is your most important goal.
When you’re an effective soft seller, you know how to get yourself on the radar of prospective leads and customers. Once they know and think of you as a reputable provider of whatever good or service you sell, they may turn to you when they need it to solve a problem or improve their business or lives.
How to Soft Sell on Social Media
In many ways, social media is made for soft selling. It’s perfect for demonstrating your industry authority, expertise, and ability to educate. How to educate? There are a plethora of opportunities to educate consumers, in the process showing them your knowledge and skill, as well as making them acquainted with what you offer.
Interaction is your watchword when using social media to promote your business. This is how you call attention to yourself and your expertise without having to resort to any overt selling techniques. Examples of interaction include liking comments from people in your industry, as well as offering your feedback and opinion in the comments.
Remember, ensure every post and ad you make on social media is linked or connected in some way to your professional website. Once potential leads have become interested enough in you to click on that link, they are ready for the harder sell type of approach you will have there.
On social media, your main goal should be to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Just consistently posting excellent content and interacting intelligently will go a long way. It sounds like common sense, and it truly is.
What Is Education-Based Marketing?
With education-based marketing, you call attention to your services through educating potential leads and customers. For example, you may provide access to a webinar, live demo, or workshop that educates your customer on a topic that will help solve their problem and bring them success.
Of course, another benefit of educational marketing is that you’re implicitly demonstrating your expertise. More and more, consumers are responsive to continuing learning. Lifelong learning is a major focus in workplaces today. This makes potential leads more receptive to your efforts to educate them.
How to Start Educating?
Starting to educate potential leads is simple to start. You can begin by posting educational posts to help others in your industry. Once you feel comfortable, there are other tactics you can use to make education part of your marketing strategy.
The Best Educational Marketing Techniques
There are many different kinds of educational marketing techniques, but some of the most popular (and effective) for many businesses are the webinar, the live demo, and the workshop.
A webinar is a remote meeting that you host and in which you provide information and education to participants. Some business owners believe that people think webinars are boring, but this isn’t the case.
A well-planned and meticulously executed webinar will go a long way in setting you up as an expert in your field. Webinars are memorable, and participants are likely to think of you immediately the next time they need your product or service.
Live demos tend to be more expensive than webinars, but if you’re selling a product that prospective leads really need to see working to fully understand, you cannot beat this type of production.
A workshop has some similarities to a webinar, but workshops are even more focused on education and training. Participants will typically get the chance of hands-on experience of some type.
Approaching marketing from a soft sell and educational perspective is a key to success in today’s marketplace. You want prospective leads to see you as an expert in your field, someone with the expertise necessary to solve their problem.
Start with social media as you embark on an educational marketing strategy. LinkedIn can be especially useful, as so many other businesses are there. Focus on education and stop hard selling.
Share with me what your favorite soft-sell advertising tactic is. Use #SoftSell on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
About the Author, James Webster
James Webster, founder and Executive Chairman of ROK Financial has almost two decades of experience within the financial services industry. His passion for helping small business owners and his innovative way of thinking, has allowed him to run multiple successful businesses including National Business Capital & Services. Under the National name, the team was able to help secure over $1 Billion in financing for small businesses nationwide.