If your business sells to other businesses you might have it rough; you could be selling something pretty expensive that has a long sales cycle, you could have a specific time of year when businesses have the approved budgets to buy,  you could be dealing with C-level people who are never around, or you could be dealing with Purchasing Agents whose livelihood depends on getting the best deal for their companies.

So what do you do? What is the best way to approach this sales process?

Some say you should make the best offer you can and bang your poor prospect over the head to buy. What you might end up with is someone who never wants to hear from you again or worse, someone you condition to “always expect a sale”.

Others say take the soft-sell approach and “help” your prospect with their day. How? With quality information that help them be better informed.

All of us need help with something in our business right? Let me think of a few ways I get help from people trying to sell me things:

1. I get a nice mailer from commercial real estate agent in my area giving me tips on future leasing plans and what rates are for which building (they might even not represent.)

2. I get an invitation to a Social Media webinar with a free white paper called 7 Ways to Increase the ROI of your Lead Generation Efforts (who doesn’t need that?) from a company that tracks social media. The webinar is full of ideas for increasing Social Media, not a webinar on how to use their product.

3. I am invited to a webinar called “Get to the top of Google: 10 Free SEO Tools”.

4. I got a white paper “5 Ideas to Get New Clients in a Down Economy

I wrestle with all of these issues, so digging in to get more information is always a good thing for me, you and your prospects.

So offer your prospects things that will help them, like
advice on overcoming obstacles they encounter on a day to day basis. It especially works if you’re product is just what solves their problem. You don’t need to be “selling” until they’re ready. And the more content you have to offer, the more your prospects will come to respect you as a trusted leader in your field. Then they’ll come to you when they’re ready.

Blog – If you’re an authority in your field you should be regularly blogging about topics in your industry. When people have questions, your blog will likely show up in the natural search results when your prospects are asking Google.

White Papers – They are not meant to be salesy, they’re meant to educate customers and help them make decisions.  Here is a nice outline of how to write a white paper.

Guides – How-to Guides are a great tool to offer to your customers.

Webinars – Re-work your How-to Guides into webinars. Some people are more visual and just like to listen to you speak and get a feel for what you know.

Email Marketing – All of these things get delivered because of your e-relationship with your prospect, so it’s important to get out there and build that prospecting email marketing list. Then use it as a vehicle to announce your monthly white paper, your weekly webinar and your blog updates.

Moving prospects along the sales cycle with free information is a great way to cultivate your sales relationships. People will respect you as an authority and not a pesky salesperson.

Do you have any ideas on soft selling?

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