Soft selling contrasts hard selling, which applies to more traditional, pressure-oriented tactics to generate sales. In the early 21st century, soft sales approaches have become more common as they align with consultative, relationship-oriented selling. Soft selling places more emphasis on the customer experience.

Customer vs. Product

A key difference between a soft sell and a hard sell is that the former places more onus on the prospect in the buying situation. Hard-sell tactics involve pushing of products on prospects regardless of their needs or interests. With soft selling, salespeople typically engage a prospect in friendly conversation, ask questions to find out his needs or problem, and make a soft recommendation on a product or service solution.

Long Term

Another distinction with soft selling is the importance of long-term relationships. Hard selling is tied to a transactional orientation, which means the goal is creating a one-time sale regardless of the implications. A soft-selling approach is used with the hope that showing more concern for the buyer will create a more welcoming and inviting atmosphere for repeat purchases. By being friendly and building rapport, salespeople are in a better position to make future inquiries and recommendations.

Low Pressure

Soft selling is defined by its low-pressure approach. Hard selling is mission-oriented. The goal is to get in, make a sale as quickly as possible in whatever way you can, and get the customer's money. Soft selling shows appreciation for the prospect's interest and respect for his space and time in making a decision. Rather than pushing a sale from the start, soft sellers begin with a basic greeting and try to find out the prospect's situation.


Typically beginning with more questions from the salesperson, soft selling is a process. Sellers make conversation and ask questions to get a good sense of the buyer's needs. Based on those needs, the salesperson can more effectively make a recommendation for a product or service. Rather than rushing a prospect through agreement, soft sellers take the time to draw out concerns and address them with more information or a product demonstration. The close only takes place once all concerns are effectively managed.