How to soft sell to build new relationships and leads effectively

“You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship
if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”
– Patricia Fripp

We all know successful sales people don’t stop being business-minded when the work day ends. Some of the most innovative ideas are generated in line at the grocery store, over dinner conversations or at the gym on the treadmill. But like the quote says, you want to open relationships, not put people on the spot or come off as tacky!

An effective soft sell is gently persuasive, demonstrating value while taking the pressure off the person who you’re talking to, and empowering them to come to a decision on their own. The trick is knowing where and how to pursue an opening. How should you bring up your real estate practice  to someone at a wedding reception who mentions they are in the market to sell their house? Or perhaps you’ve been invited to speak at a conference and you want to make sure potential leads are informed, but you don’t feel like a pitch presentation is appropriate.

Here are some sure-fire tips for knowing how to soft sell with tact, no matter what the situation is:

Be a giver, not a taker

Your approach, whether it’s in conversation or on stage, should start here: Are you a giver who wants to demonstrate value? Or are you conveying that you want something from your audience or potential lead?

Guess which one is a winning strategy?

The third-most watched TED talks presenter of all time; Simon Sinek talks about this when giving advice to speakers; he says: “We are highly social animals. Even at a distance on stage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver — a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them — than a taker.”

In a presentation, it’s completely natural to mention your business, use a personal case study or make sure your logo is prominent. Also, make time for questions or to be accessible after the talk. In other words, make sure potential leads know how to find you after you inspire them to follow up!


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Be human

When a conversation opportunity arises, before you open your mouth, think for a moment about how your customers must feel, what they think and what they want in interactions. There are numerous books on the psychology of sales, and they can certainly help you understand how to be more persuasive.

You’ll also encounter potential leads who also happen to be part of  your community. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, and greet them first as a fellow member of the community, not a billboard or commercial! Imagine every possible lead opening introduction is like having someone move into the house next door. Talk to them like you would with a neighbor; that’s a good way to start and keep it human!

Ask open-ended questions

If the person sitting next to you begins a conversation discussing a potential business problem, they aren’t expecting someone at the table to jump in and solve it. Don’t be the person who interjects and takes over! We know asking open-ended questions with our customers is a very useful tactic, so how about using that strategy with potential leads?

Be cordial by asking questions and listening to the answers. People like being heard first and foremost and then you can follow up by demonstrating value in your responses and shared expertise. Keep it casual and remain a giver. After you’ve listened you can also just hand them your card and offer to discuss it further if they want to give you a call or email.

Re-connect with people you already know

The importance of follow-up and re-engaging with lost leads is well known, but after you’ve made friendly conversation with someone in your network or community, that person is potentially a lead to reconnect with. Perhaps another local business owner gave you their card a while ago at a function and mentioned some facet of their business was struggling. Now would be a great time to follow up and ask how it’s going, and see if there is an opportunity there to share expertise. Think of some missed opportunities that you wish you could go back and revisit. Now that you’ve learned how to soft sell in a more compelling way, it’s definitely the time to go for it!


lead-managerlead-managerDo you want a better way to follow up with all potential leads? Here’s an easy way to simplify your sales process. Schedule a free demo of our lead management software, and turn leads into customers in no time!


Do you use any other pro-tips for soft selling that we have not included here? Please share them in the comments!