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The Rise Of The Soft Sell

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by David Garland in David's Blog

The Rise Of The Soft SellSelling. Many people think it is a dirty word. In fact, I once said it to a group of college students and I thought some might physically throw up (on second thought, that MIGHT have been because they were up way late the night before partying…but I digress).

Here comes the paradox. Sales are obviously critical (money is important). But, honestly, selling sucks (unless you are a sales shark of awesome who loves it). And by selling, I mean all the traditional, stereotypical means of selling.

I call it the “Buy or Die!” method. The used car salesman in the tweed jacket who asks, “What can I do to get you in this (not so) gently used vehicle today?” The sales shark who is cold calling everyone to set up lunch meetings to shove something down your throat in the form of “solutions” or “proposals” without giving a crap about YOU and YOUR BUSINESS. The online product page telling you that if you don’t buy the product (and there are only five left!) in the next five minutes then a whale will destroy your house and you will go broke. This page usually has big head lines, lots of yellow highlighter text, slashes through prices, ridiculous guarantees and testimonials from folks that apparently don’t have a last name. It screams: “Buy something! Or get the *bleep* outta here!”

…and the list goes on (I literally just cringed as I wrote that).

And who REALLY loves to be sold like that? I mean, c’mon. And if we don’t like to be sold like that, then why are (many) selling like that? Buy or die!

Enter the soft sell. The non-pushy push. The “oh by the way” I have something to sell. It isn’t about being sheepish or not proud (and excited) about it, it is just another way of doing things. But remember, nobody is excited about our products and services as much as we are….people care about themselves.

It is also the anti-manipulation strategy of sales and marketing. The manipulation strategy is simple: Everything you do is to hopefully generate more sales and the only people that are important are the ones who buy.

Screw that. Seriously. And you can spot this manipulation miles away. It is the guy who writes a blog post or article or sends a Tweet out (all the time) just to get you to buy.

Is selling and promoting stuff bad? Absolutely not! Is shoving stuff down people’s throats over and over bad? Probably. And I get it. Sometimes you need to promote something timely (an event, a book release, a *who knows what* special).

But, the not-so-secret is this: The online world is driven by soft sellers. People you know, like, and trust. Trusted resources. Humans (you know who you are buying from). People that don’t view sales as manipulative cash grabs, but a long-term relationship (as opposed to a one night stand).

A perfect example is Chris Guillebeau, Author of The Art Of Non-Conformity blog and book (you can check out my interview with him right here). His main revenue comes from the really cool digital products he creates called “Unconventional Guides”. Check it out. Nothing is sketchy. The products are clearly outlined and are cool.

But here is the thing. Chris doesn’t shove these things at you like a bull. Instead, he focuses his time on building the community on his blog, asking what they want, and then delivering. Chris knows 95% of the people who visit the blog will just read and move on and maybe 5% will buy something because they are gently reminded and in need of it. And that is more than OK. The other 95% of people are just as important as the 5% (and as Chris mentioned in the interview, the 95% helps out in other valuable ways such as sharing the blog content on Twitter).

Chris paves the way with FREE (keyword: FREE) inspiring, educational, and entertaining content. That is what he promotes and markets (as opposed to the product). And once people are in there and in his world of great content and design, some will purchase a product. And those some are receiving something valuable and resulting in a nice income for Chris.

Chris Guillebeau is a soft seller and a trusted resource. Are you?

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