Soft Sell or Hard Sell? How do you approach sales? Whether you must sell hard or soft, these tips will help you to refine your style.

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In selling, as in martial arts, there are times when beingaggressive is the only way to close the deal. At other times,though, a softer approach is the better way to go. The differenceis that, in selling, our customers are not our enemies. Rather,they are our sparring partners, and the result of our interactionis that both parties should come out stronger in the end.

The Soft Sell

If you've decided that a kinder, gentler approach iswhat's needed to close a deal, there are three "soft"steps you can take when someone comes at you with an objection:

1. Listen and observe. Youwant to know not only what the person is saying to you, but alsohow he or she is saying it. You want to hear the words and analyzethe personality behind the words. Most important, you want toestablish eye contact and create a bond that can lead to a strongrelationship.

2. Question their objections. You can't counter anattack unless you're able to size up your opponent. And youcan't handle an objection unless you understand exactly what itis and where it's coming from. Only then can you see thepossibilities available to make your product or service fit withyour customers' needs. So question your customers'objections, and find out how you can fill their needs. Ask them toexplain, expand and elaborate until you fully understand thesituation.

3. Address their concerns. Use your customers' ownobjections to deflect their concerns and lead them to a positiveresolution of what they perceive as a conflict. Say, "Youmentioned this was your real concern about using this product.Here's what we can do for you to make sure that all your needsare met."

The Hard Sell

Sometimes, it's necessary to take a more aggressive approachto make a sale. There are two steps to follow here:

1. Let your enthusiasm and passionshow. Let customers see that you believe strongly that there isa match between what they need and what you've got to offer.There's a saying in martial arts: "If you understandyourself and not your opponent, you win half the battles. If youunderstand your opponent and yourself, you win 100 percent of thebattles. If you understand neither, you win no battles." Ifyou really understand yourself and what you're selling, and youreally understand the customer, you will come away with a win-winsituation.

2. Be able to support your belief. In sales, belief andenthusiasm can carry the day--if they are backed up by knowledgeand understanding. Have all your facts and figures down, and haveat least three or four strong reasons illustrating how your productstands out from the rest.

When you're trying to make a sale, you have to know what todo when an objection comes at you from left field. To make thestrongest close, you have to be ready to use what you'velearned about your customer, what you know about yourself and yourproduct, and how much you believe in what you're doing.

Top-rated sales, management and motivation speaker BarryFarber ( is author of Superstar SalesSecrets and Diamond Power.

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