In Soft Sell Sales, Questions Are to Understand

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Jul 11

Listening Well Involves Caring Enough to Hear What's Being Said

Listening Well Involves Caring Enough to Hear What's Being Said

About twenty years ago, I attended a sales training class that has ever since stood out as the classic example of hard sell. This former vacuum cleaner salesman taught us how he sold 90% of the homes in this small town in Nevada or Arizona. He told us to just develop a series of questions that everybody would answer yes to. Each yes was like a degree on a thermometer. Eventually you had so many yeses that the temperature reached a point where — that’s right — where they couldn’t say no. Degree by degree he built his closing momentum.

I left that training really disappointed that I’d wasted my money. Talk about manipulation. Long before I heard Judith & Jim talk about soft sell marketing and their Soft Sell Marketers Association, I was a soft sell salesperson and soft sell marketer. My spiritual convictions are such that I’m responsible for my actions. If I control people subconsciously so as to take away their freedom to choose, I will eventually find my actions come back on me.

The irony is that when you use the soft sell approach and ask questions to better understand your prospects’ situation, to work together to help solve their problems or to achieve their dreams, you don’t need to memorize checklists of questions or drill yourself on clever, irresistible closes. You gain freedom to be yourself, to actually have fun relating with your prospects as people. Soft sell sales and marketing build relationships and make connections. There is something I find really satisfying about helping people improve their lives with my products and services.

I’ve closed major sales with this soft sell sales approach — everything from school districts to credit unions to Fortune 100 companies. One sale was worth $1,000,000 is service contracts over three years plus additional business — and I was working for a small computer dealer. When people have problems they can’t solve on their own, they welcome help.

The sincere use of questions to understand and to grasp the full problem or desire helps move prospects past skepticism. I fondly remember watching a prospect finally realize that I was for real. I wanted to give him the service contract he needed. When that happened, he started to tell me what we needed to do so he could get us the purchase order. Was that ever a high!

The point is, use questions to build relationships where your customers trust you to help them buy. Developing a checklist of questions to build closing momentum is unnecessary. Enjoy the freedom to just be yourself that comes with soft sell sales and marketing. Moreover, experience the fun, fulfillment, and mutual rewards that are far deeper and more satisfying than just the commission or profit alone.

If you would like to join a community of people who believe that sales and marketing are spiritual services — and can be fun, fulfilling and mutually rewarding, check out the Soft Sell Marketers Association.

About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. Until June 11t, 2012, it is available at its introductory rate of $.99. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.