When it comes to sales, soft skills are especially important. Soft skills, which include traits like empathy, resourcefulness and perseverance, help sales reps build rapport with clients and prospects and establish meaningful business relationships.

While hard selling involves trying to close a deal as soon as possible, soft selling involves relationship-building to develop trust. Lestraundra Alfred, a staff writer for the HubSpot Sales Blog, says sales leaders can help their team members develop soft skills in many ways. We share Alfred’s thoughts on techniques to facilitate a soft sell in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Investigate the prospect. Always take time to conduct industry research before reaching out to a prospect. This will help you determine if your product or service is a good fit and will allow you to make the best possible recommendation.

Be friendly. When making a soft sell, personability goes a long way, says Alfred. Try to avoid being overly stiff in your communication and aim to keep your tone conversational. For example, rather than reading from a sales script or following a presentation verbatim, try to make your delivery feel more like advice from a friend.

Emphasize relationship-building. Before talking business, Alfred recommends that sales professionals take time to learn about the prospect as an individual. This could mean simply asking how their day is going or following up on a personal story they mentioned in a previous meeting.

Learn to listen well. Listening is a crucial part of mastering the art of soft selling. To actively listen, you can repeat content back to the prospect and ask for clarification to make sure you understood correctly. When your prospects feel heard, it builds credibility which further enables you to make the soft sell, says Alfred.

Ask open-ended questions. Another way to improve your sales team’s soft skills is to coach them to ask thoughtful questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Alfred points out that asking open-ended questions demonstrates a genuine interest in helping the other person solve their problems. This helps you gain their trust and get the full context of their situation.

Add value without asking for the sale. The idea is to go above and beyond by providing prospects with a great experience—even if you don’t immediately close the sale. This is a way to show prospects that they are top of mind, says Alfred. If your prospect isn’t sure how to get leadership buy-in on purchases, you could consider sending them an article with pointers for navigating budget conversations.

Take a step back. To succeed at the soft sell, be sure to give the prospect space to make a decision. Once you send them relevant information without pressuring them to buy, aim to wait 48 hours before checking in with them, says Alfred. Then you can offer to answer any questions and look for new ways to add value.

Prospects are more likely to buy from someone they trust. By helping your sales reps develop their soft selling skills, you enable them to better engage with prospects and land more sales.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Lestraundra Alfred is a staff writer for the HubSpot Sales Blog.