Don’t be that used car salesman – no one wants to be pushed. Here’s what they do want, and what will make them choose to buy from you.

A high-pressure sales approach often makes leads and prospects uncomfortable. Potential clients want to be courted without feeling the pressure from a persistent sales pitch. They want an adviser who offers them solutions, rather than pushing product.

Sales expert Bob Burg believes “a low-pressure – even no-pressure – [sales] approach will ultimately result in far more sales (not to mention greater career satisfaction for its practitioners).”

Former Harvard Business Review editor Edward C. Bursk agrees. He describes low-pressure selling as “not driving the prospect into a buying decision, but letting [them] reach the decision [themself]”.

But in reality, this is difficult for salespeople, with targets and commission to consider. It doesn’t have to be this way – building long-term relationships based on trust leads to sales. Here are five ways to become a sales trailblazer that establishes buy-in and close sales without making leads feel pressured or intimidated.

1. Understand the need, and meet it


Your biggest competitive advantage comes from being able to fulfil your customers’ most important needs better than other vendors. To maintain your competitive edge and have prospects organically choose you, be proactive about finding out what their challenges are and offering solutions.

  • Practice active listening to identify customer pain points.

  • Ask customers what features they would like to see, and for their criticism.

  • Use data to decide which problems are common and profitable, and prioritise solving these.

As soon as you identify your customers’ most critical needs, share that knowledge so that your company can profitably improve products. Sharing knowledge broadly and immediately should be a regular business process so that your client-facing experience can help build a customer-centric brand that will naturally attract buyers.

The best customer-centric brands use that knowledge and data with AI to predict customers’ future needs – when a customer knows you are already thinking about the future of their business and planning how you can help them next, you become that trusted adviser, and can stop selling and start advising.

2. Slow-feed your email drip campaigns


Almost half of the leads you identify may be qualified customers who are not yet ready to buy – but your AI tells them they will be at some point. For shoppers who prefer to purchase at their own pace, email drip campaigns deliver the information they need in a timely manner to help them reach a purchasing decision.

Work with your marketing team on drip marketing to complement the buyer’s journey. This allows you to handhold customers through each stage of their decision-making process before finally pitching your services.

According to marketing strategist Janelle Johnson, there are six types of drip campaigns:

  1. Top-of-mind drips to consistently engage prospects through each step of the sales cycle.

  2. Educational drips to inform potential customers about your offerings, trends that apply to their business and how your product is the perfect solution for their needs.

  3. Re-engagement drips to connect with customers who stopped using your product, or leads that went cold.

  4. Competitive drips to educate prospects who patronise your competitors about your unique advantages, and ultimately convince them to choose your solutions instead.

  5. Promotional drips to incentivise leads to purchase during a limited-time promotion or using an exclusive discount.

  6. Training drips to seamlessly on-board new customers who want to learn ways to fully use your product or service and extract more value from your offerings.

Regularly optimise the content and timing of each email. Over time, you will be able to develop a solid schedule for when you will deliver messages to leads, and what to include each time.

3. Make your prospects excellent at their jobs


You’ve already been working collaboratively with potential customers to identify what they actually need from the engagement – making yourself a trusted advisor rather than a salesperson.

Using this information, share content that offers a helping hand, tips or tools that empower them to be better at their jobs – this will show your prospect you understand those needs you have identified, and are focused on helping them over and above selling to them.

There are many categories of content, and two are most relevant here:

  1. Consideration content that is practically useful and familiarises the prospect with your offering, including whitepapers, customer success stories and case studies of similar scenarios

  2. Decision content for those who are almost ready to make their final decision about whether to purchase or pass. In-depth content is good at this point, and the focus can shift slightly – you’re helping them make the decision, rather than focusing solely on solving their business challenge. You might share product demos, competitor comparison charts and sales proposals.

4. Offer risk-free product trials


Some prospects need to see it to believe it. Propose a free trial that offers all the functionality the client needs to be completely swept off their feet. Make it a time-sensitive offer where the customer only has access to your product or service for a week or a month – make sure it’s enough time to tinker around with your tools and extract enough value to make their purchasing decision a no-brainer.

Alternatively, provide an access-limited account in which customers pay for premium features and upgrades. In this instance, select features that would be free to users for a lifetime.

If your company doesn’t offer free trials, it’s worth talking the boss into it – your sales will be far more simple. Entrepreneur João Romão outlines three reasons companies should offer free trials to leads and prospects, which will make that conversation easier:

  1. To convert skeptical customers: a commitment-free opportunity to give a product or service a test run allows prospects to see how well your offerings actually work. This is a way for vendors to earn buyer trust, too.

  2. To defend against competitors and grow market share: though many clients who activate their free trial may never convert to paying customers, they also may never switch to purchasing a product from competitors. This helps sellers access and acquire a much broader customer base.

  3. To outshine the competition: buyers virtually expect to be able to try out your product or service risk-free. Sellers with a compelling free trial offer find themselves in an advantageous position because they have more opportunity to showcase their product’s benefits and features to qualified buyers.

Of course, the work does not stop when you acquire a free trial user. To turn trial users into paying customers, you need to teach them how to take full advantage of your tools.

Activate your users by walking them through how to use your product or service and apply it to their business. Email and in-app messaging typically work best to engage users and get them onto your platform. Online marketing and conversion rate enthusiast Steven Macdonald outlines eight steps for converting free trial users into paying customers through email marketing.

  1. Send your first email within 90 minutes of sign-up.

  2. Share an in-depth how-to guide to get started.

  3. Personalise each of your emails to users and sign off with brand contact information.

  4. Include a clear and obvious call to action.

  5. Send multiple emails throughout the trial period and lighten the pace of email delivery after the user’s trial ends.

  6. Host a weekly or monthly webinar or Twitter chats so users have an opportunity to walk through different ways of using your product, and so they can ask questions.

  7. Offer free trial extensions to customers who have not yet signed up as paying customers but have been actively using your free tools.

  8. Source feedback to understand buyers’ biggest reservations – what is preventing them from purchasing?

5. Stay top-of-mind with retargeting


The most successful soft-sellers employ targeted ads to deliver the content and information that prospects need to progress through each stage of the sales cycle. With retargeting, your ads will be viewed by audiences that recently interacted with their website, which increases the click rate.

Through the three main phases of the sales funnel, sales teams ought to promote different types of creatives that align with how far along buyers are in their decision making process.

  1. Top of the funnel is all about awareness. What do you offer? What’s different about your brand? “For the awareness stage, create Facebook ads that drive visibility to your campaign with messaging that’s light and informative, and provides high-level information about your organisation,” says marketing consultant Brian Honigman. “Facebook ads with the goal of generating awareness shouldn’t be focused on a hard sell, but more of a general introduction to your business, its story and its offerings.”

  2. Middle of the funnel content captures or reinforces existing interest. Promote ads that link to related industry news, branded content and other thought leadership pieces, earned media and positive press mentions, and results-oriented case studies.

  3. Bottom of the funnel content includes re-purchase offers such as audits, product demos and free trials. This allows salespeople to generate further buy-in with leads who may now understand the value they would receive post-purchase.  

Smart salespeople work closely with their colleagues in product to build apps, tools and services customers actually need and want. They also team with marketers to craft and deliver email marketing campaigns.

To close more contracts, successful B2B sales reps collaborate with clients to problem-solve together, and share advice and content to help prospects excel. Using free trial offers, they bring buyers one step closer to purchasing.

With retargeting, sales teams are able to remain top-of-mind, allowing buyers to discover new information at their own pace.