The world of sales and marketing has always been a fiercely competitive place historically. If you do not sell enough products or services, the chances are that you will go out of business. As a consequence of this tenaciousness, the consumer was almost always exposed to the hard sell techniques used by businesses with one eye on survival. However, there has been a definite shift in recent times regarding the attitudes of consumers. Let’s take a look at this change, and where using the soft email marketing approach allows some companies to get ahead – and stay ahead – of rival businesses.
Although there is still a place for hard sell techniques, it is safe to say that the majority of consumers are now put off from making a purchase when faced with such in-your-face approaches to businesses selling products and services. As more and more people around the world are connecting to the internet, thus, more and more people are exposed to internet advertising. Similarly, as people who are accessing the internet tend to be younger and younger, by the time they are adults, they have been exposed to literally hundreds of thousands of pushy advertisements instructing them that buying such and such will transform their lives. This is the online equivalent of a fake smiling, flashy suited salesman pretending to be your friend to get a sale. These people are not so naïve as perhaps the older generations were. The result: no interest from the user, and no sale for the company. People nowadays are very wary of sales pitches, and if they sense that making a sale is placed above helping them to find the right product for them, they will lose interest. The result is that the savvy companies have had to change their approach from a hard sell to a soft sell.
The most successful companies out there today take a totally different approach. They understand that as you chat to a potential customer – either live on the phone or through back and forth emails – you are being judged consistently on one major criteria by the consumer: does this person care about me and my needs? Businesses who refrain from bombarding potential customers with offers of discounts and the like within the first few emails spark an interest from the customer. This can be worked upon by the company to really create a relationship with the client before moving on to any matters of business. The most successful email campaigns are almost selfless from the business point of view; they do not try so hard to make a sale and concentrate on the customer’s needs. This really comes across well to the customer, and they will form the idea that this particular company has principles and actually wants to help people, rather than squeeze them for all the money they can. The outcome is that when a customer does have to make a purchase – they will approach that business first. Businesses who use this approach are also not afraid to turn down a customer’s suggestion of a product – if it is not suitable. They will take the time to explain that perhaps another product is, for example, better suited to the customers price range, or individual need. This can really give the customer confidence that the business is trying to help them, rather than treating them as a source of income, regardless of what is bought.
It is important to understand that people need to purchase goods and services at different times. They have no choice. However, it is how a business goes about this, which makes all the difference. People have become suspicious of the hard sell techniques, and the methods – such as repetitive keywords, and even the neurolinguistic programming (NLP) employed by some companies – and much prefer to be perceived as a person, not a ‘thing’ which is told what to buy and when. For these reasons, the soft email marketing approach garners a much better response and result from potential customers. Telling a customer the truth – regardless of how it affects a companies bottom line – will, in the long run, be a much better investment of time for the business.