Soft Closing vs. Hard Closing Techniques – Which Should I Use?
The sales prospecting cycle is an essential framework for any growing business – should you use soft closing or hard closing techniques? When used successfully, a prospecting cycle helps your reps consistently connect with qualified leads, and bring potential customers into the fold while expanding brand awareness.
Most businesses think of prospecting as tedious work, making hundreds of calls for a few qualified leads. But there’s a lot more to prospecting than making cold calls and sending emails. Here’s our guide on how to develop your sales prospecting cycle to maximize your success.
#1 Research Your Leads
Before you make any contact, take time to research your leads. This will help you get to know their business model, familiarize yourself with their industry, and potentially identify future pain points. Researching leads may look different depending on their industry, but includes strategies such as:
- Reading the mission statement on their website.
- Reading blog articles.
- Watching webinars they’ve hosted online.
The more you learn about your prospect, the easier it is to tailor your initial sales pitch to include relevant information about their industry.
#2 Connect on Social Media
Thanks to social media, cold calls don’t need to feel like a shot in the dark. Connecting with your prospect on social channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram allows you to establish a casual connection with your prospect before you engage them as a potential lead.
Social media is an excellent means to gauge interest and familiarize yourself with a prospect’s professional sphere. Join mutual business groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to connect with your prospect beyond a transactional level. This way, you can “warm up” your cold call or cold email by sending them a message, or commenting on a post.
#3 Utilize Multiple Channels to Connect
Don’t rely on one means of communication as the be-all and end-all. Some professionals prefer to communicate online via email or message, while others might prefer old-fashioned phone calls. Introduce a multi-channel approach initially, until you have a clearer sense of your prospect’s preferred communication platform. For example, if you start with an email, follow up with a phone call and vice versa. Remember, diligence is often required to gain a prospect’s interest.
#4 Adopt Value-Based Sales Prospecting Cycle Selling Techniques
Nowadays, prospects are looking for products that genuinely add value to their lives. This is why successful sales pitches are straying away from the traditional “best deal for the best price” model, and instead are focusing more on problem solving and client satisfaction.
Approach your initial conversation with ample curiosity and let your prospect do a lot of the talking. Get to know their individual needs and determine how your product might be a useful solution for their challenges. Ask plenty of follow-up questions like:
- Where would you like your business to be in 5 years?
- What are you looking for in a solution for future challenges?
- How have you dealt with past challenges?
- What aspects of your business do you want to prioritize?
The goal is to illustrate how your product may be able to offer unique solutions that align with a prospect’s values and goals. Demonstrate that you’re invested in their future success but don’t go overboard with the sales pitch. Approach the meeting with the mindset that you are there to help them, not the other way around.
#5 Follow Up
Most new prospects don’t convert in one day. After you’ve had your initial phone call or meeting, don’t forget to follow up! Establish consistent contact that provides value and information for your prospect. Don’t worry if you need to follow up several times before getting a response, but don’t badger your prospect. You don’t want them to feel rushed or uncomfortable, so it’s important to respect their decision-making timeline.
Fine Tuning the Sales Prospecting Cycle with Acquirent
Hoping to tune-up your prospecting cycle? At Acquirent we work with companies nationwide to facilitate a cohesive and productive sales team. Our team is ready to tackle prospecting, recruitment, and sales training, all while maintaining a positive and collaborative environment. Acquirent’s goal is to help your company succeed by providing you
It’s common for salespeople to spend a lot of time talking about their prospecting techniques, while ignoring their equally important closing techniques. In most cases, reps opt for either hard or soft closing strategies. In most cases, both methods are an effective way to secure the deal, although it’s important to tailor your closing technique to match the client.
Wondering how you’ll decide between hard and soft closing techniques? Here’s our guide on hard vs. soft closing techniques and when to use them.
What is the Difference?
Think of the difference between hard closing techniques and soft closing techniques as a difference in their tone and directness. For example, hard closing techniques are often straightforward, to the point, and directly address the sale. Soft closing techniques on the other hand, stray away from blunt questions, and focus on leading a prospect towards a decision in a more subtle manner. Both techniques are useful tools, and their success depends on the individual client.
Hard Closing Techniques
Hard closing techniques are oriented towards controlling the conversation and directly addressing the sale with the client. Hard closing strategies are often described as “blunt,” “no-nonsense,” or “authoritative.” While many salespeople shy away from such a direct approach, it’s important to have these tactics in your toolkit.
In some cases, a highly indecisive client might need a nudge to commit to a sale. Since soft closing techniques may not be persuasive enough, it’s useful to have hard closing techniques at your disposal.
A Direct Approach
The most obvious use of hard closing techniques is being totally direct with your client. Asking “do you want to move forward with this deal?” or “shall we close this today?” forces your prospect into the hot seat, and encourages them to make a commitment on the spot.
You can also use a “now or never” approach, which places a timeline constraint on the sale, and may help a wavering prospect take the plunge and commit to your product.
Don’t Be Too Pushy
The downside of hard closing techniques is that many clients find the directness and pressure off-putting. Remember, hard closing techniques don’t work for every client, so try warming up with a few soft techniques before you take the plunge. Utilizing hard techniques requires confidence and skill, so it’s helpful to practice these strategies before employing them with a client.
Soft Closing Techniques
Soft closing techniques take a more naturalistic and non-confrontational approach to selling. The goal of soft closing techniques is to introduce the sale gradually throughout the conversation, and guide the client to a decision by offering insights into how your product will address their needs.
The soft closing technique assumes that a client will reach the decision to invest in your product at the end of the conversation. Asking questions like “so when would you like to start” or “how many can I put you down for” assumes that a client is already committed to the deal and utilizes the conversation as a stepping stone for the sale.
Be a Partner
Another approach to soft closing techniques is to view your client almost as a partner. Look at your sales interaction as an opportunity to offer your client help with their business and focus on the benefits and solutions your product provides. Consult with your prospect and act like a mentor figure instead of a salesperson.
Don’t be Too Vague
The downside of soft closing techniques is that they are often too vague or wishy-washy. Make sure that you don’t get so caught-up pleasing your prospect that you forget to pursue the sale. While it’s often effective to be subtle with your selling strategies, some clients may not respond well to a lack of assertiveness and clarity.
Developing Your Sales Force with Acquirent
At the end of the day selecting your closing techniques needs to be done on a case-by-case basis. Instead of shouldering your sales strategies solo, consider partnering with an outsourced sales development company like Acquirent.
Here at Acquirent, we pride ourselves on our dedication to customer success and our ability to work with a wide variety of businesses. Whether you’re a new business just starting out or an established corporation, Acquirent’s team of professional development reps can help train, manage, and recruit for your sales force.
with the best business tools for the job. Need extra help? Acquirent offers completely outsourced prospecting resources, so you can spend time developing other aspects of your business.
Contact us today to get your free quote.