Hard Selling vs. Soft Selling: Which One Works Better for Affiliates?

When you started out with affiliate marketing, you thought it was going to be easy.

After all, they did say that this is one of the easiest types of online businesses.

Actually, this is true, since you don’t have to undergo the process of creating and developing a product.

But it does not mean that it’s a walk in the park.

It has its own set of requirements before you can achieve any results.

One of these is attracting the right customers to come to your affiliate website.

This can be done through the right marketing and sales strategies.

There are two types of sales strategies that you need to know about: hard selling and soft selling.

It’s important to distinguish between these two and learn which one is the better approach for your affiliate marketing business.

To help you find out, we’ll discuss the basics of each option as well as their pros and cons.

What is Hard Selling?

Hard selling refers to the direct type of sales and promotions. It is often described as “aggressive” and “repetitive”. It usually entails the use of assertive and hard-hitting techniques, repetitive calls to action, and strong claims about a product’s benefits and features.

How Does Hard Selling Work?

Some experts describe hard selling as the “hunting” approach.

In this approach, the salesperson will aggressively attempt to make a sale, sometimes to the point of earning the ire of the customer.

He/she will make dramatic claims, promises and guarantees to the customers.

He/she will offer a discounted price or a special offer even when the customer is not asking for it.

The hard seller’s common calls to action include:

  • Buy now
  • Call now
  • Get it now
  • Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity

He/she is the type of salesperson that will ask you “should I wrap this for you?” even before you have made the decision to buy the product.

Sales are pushed immediately and early on during the transaction.

This is how hard selling works.

Benefits of Hard Selling

Hard selling has its pros and cons that you should be aware of so you know if it is a good idea for you to use it for your affiliate marketing business.

Let’s start with the benefits.

Benefit # 1 – It helps indecisive customers to buy your product

This is the primary benefit of hard selling—pushing sales to people who are indecisive.

Let’s say a customer is not yet decided whether to buy your product or not, because he/she does not know if it is truly what is needed to resolve a problem or an issue.

But since you’re doing everything you can to get him/her to buy, even going as far as giving out a 20 percent discount (which is to be deducted from your own commission), you are able to finally convince the customer to buy the product.

He/she is convinced to buy the product not necessarily because the product is needed but because of the discount. The customer fears of missing out on the opportunity on getting the product at a discounted rate. It makes him/her feel that he/she is getting a good deal out of it.

This technique usually works for people who are not confrontational. There are those who would simply give in just to prevent any further discussion.

This is also ideal for people who are impulsive buyers. There are those that don’t think twice about buying a product because of their impulse.

Benefit # 2 – It can increase the number of short-term or one-time sales

With the “urgency” that a hard seller is trying to imply, a customer is likely to close the transaction more quickly.

But someone who is pressured into buying a product is likely never to make another business with the same salesman again.

This is why, hard selling is often used for generating as many short-term and one-time sales.

The more one-time sales you have, the more earnings you have, but only for the short term.

Drawbacks of Hard Selling

Of course, hard selling has certain drawbacks that you should know about, and these include the following:

Drawback # 1 – It can prevent a sale from happening

Many customers agree that hard selling can be annoying and can be a major turn off.

In fact, some customers easily get offended by a salesman’s harsh techniques that it’s not uncommon to see them walk away, hang up the phone, delete an email or leave a website when confronted by a hard seller.

This is especially true for customers who are more reserved and reticent, and who never find it appealing to be confronted with such aggressiveness.

Instead of pushing the customer to buy the product, hard selling can push the customer away.

Before you know it, the customer has left and is off to look for another place where he/she can do shopping in peace without being bothered by a nosy salesman.

If this happens too often, hard selling can result in a decrease in sales and loss of customers.

Drawback # 2 – It usually does not help achieve long-term goals

As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of hard selling is to achieve one-time sales and short-term goals.

So obviously, the drawback is that it does not help with your long-term goals as an affiliate.

One of your long-term goals is to earn the trust and loyalty of your customers.

This can be difficult to achieve with hard selling, which is more effective in securing a one-time sale. But as mentioned earlier, the negative experience will usually prompt the customer to never return again to buy another product. Who wants to get pushed and forced, right?

Drawback # 3 – It can negatively affect your reputation and credibility

Aside from long-term goals, hard selling also does not help with your credibility and online reputation.

These two are important for any affiliate marketer.

But if you resort to hard selling techniques, many of your customers will perceive you as annoying and aggressive. You can even be described as the “typical salesperson” who is after nothing but making a sale. This will make your customers as well as other people think that you are not to be trusted.

This can put you in bad light, and will make it difficult for you to instill trust for your business.

Drawback # 4 – It can cause conflict with your customers

It’s not uncommon for hard selling to cause conflict with customers.

There are some customers who are vocal enough to say when they do not like your ways.

This is why, many aggressive salespeople have gotten into trouble with their customers.

This can be a problem for your affiliate marketing business as your primary goal is to satisfy and take care of your customers. How can you do this if you two are already fighting?

What is Soft Selling?

Now that you know what hard selling is, and how it can make or break your affiliate marketing business, let’s now go to soft selling.

Soft selling refers to the indirect approach on sales, marketing and promotions.

This encompasses all methods that focus primarily on building one’s reputation and credibility, and fostering a positive relationship and connection with customers.

How Does Soft Selling Work?

While hard selling is described as “hunting”, soft selling, on the other hand, is known as the “farming approach”.

A soft seller is like a farmer who will cultivate a seed and will water it and take care of it every day until it blossoms and bears a fruit.

As you can guess, the seed is the metaphor for the connection and relationship with a customer. Watering and taking care of the seeds means taking good care of your customers. And the fruit is the soft seller’s achievement of long-term goals.

Like growing a plant, soft selling takes time and effort. It does not happen instantly like hard selling.

It is called “soft selling” because the methods are never harsh and aggressive. It never appears ot be “desperate” for making a sale.

Benefits of Soft Selling

You’ll be happy to see that there are many benefits to this type of sales strategy. And these include the following:

Benefit # 1 – It helps you earn the trust of your customers

Since soft selling is all about building a connection and relationship with customers, this helps you earn their trust, which is very important in affiliate marketing.

Often, soft selling strategies include free trials, free gifts and money back guarantees that almost all customers would appreciate and be happy about.

As you don’t appear to be a desperate salesman who is after nothing but making a sale, your customers will find it easier to put their trust and confidence in you. They are more likely to believe your product recommendations, advice and strategies.

Benefit # 2 – It helps build a positive reputation

Aside from cultivating relationship with customers, soft selling also helps build your reputation as an affiliate.

Again, this has something to do with not seeming like you’re just after money.

People find it difficult to trust any business that is only after this goal. With soft selling, you can show your customers that you are someone that can be trusted and relied upon. You will appear more credible and legitimate.

It’s easier to spread the word about your affiliate marketing business when you have a positive online reputation.

Benefit # 3 – It turns customers into loyal customers

Another great thing about soft selling is that you don’t just earn the trust of your customers, you can also earn their loyalty.

A customer who trusts you will buy a product from you but may or may not return to do business again.

But a customer who is loyal to you will keep on buying your products, and will even go as far as spread the word about your online business.

As you know, word of mouth is one of the cheapest and most effective marketing methods that you can use for your affiliate marketing business.

And getting people to talk about your business can be achieved with the help of soft selling techniques.

Benefit # 4 – It helps foster lasting relationships with customers

With soft selling, you don’t just get to have a seller-customer relationship with your customers, you can even get to make new friends.

Soft selling is also about helping people out. And when you do this effectively, you will see that more people will consider you not only as someone who owns a business, but someone who can be a friend.

With more friends, it becomes a lot easier for your online business to thrive and succeed.

Benefit # 5 – It can help achieve long-term success for your affiliate marketing business

Speaking of success, soft selling can help achieve your long-term goals for your affiliate marketing business.

Yes, this takes a much longer time than the hard selling approach when it comes to making money.

But this is the one that will give you a steady source of passive income in the future.

Drawbacks of Soft Selling

Although the benefits are countless, there are also certain drawbacks to soft selling. After all, it’s not a perfect system.

Here are some of the disadvantages that have been linked to soft selling:

Drawback # 1 – It may not be enough to convince some types of people

There are some people who would rather be pushed and persuaded to take action.

For these types of people, your soft selling techniques won’t work.

If you don’t make your offer seem like it’s necessary or urgent, or that you are not pushing them to buy the product, they simply won’t act, and often, they will just walk away.

Or sometimes, they would consider your offer, but since it’s not that urgent, they say that they will think about it. But as you can guess, they will not return to buy the product because they’ve already forgotten about it.

Drawback # 2 – It may make it difficult for you to keep up with the competition

With your competitors working day in and day out getting people to buy products that are similar to what you offer, soft selling may put you in the sidelines.

Since there are also people who give in to pressure, you might be losing these customers to your competitors who are making of the hard selling strategies.

What is the Better Approach for an Affiliate?

In a study conducted in 2007, it was shown that 30 percent more customers are more willing to buy a product from a seller that employs the soft selling technique.

Aside from this, 97 percent of these people are more likely to spread the word about a business that makes use of this technique, relating to family and friends about their positive experience with the soft seller.

There is another study, however, that found that hard selling works in getting more email responses, something that email marketers and affiliates who make use of email marketing should consider.

Take note, however, that most of the responses gotten by the hard selling email messages were of negative tone.

These expressed the reader’s frustration over the harsh emails while others simply hit the unsubscribe button.

Aggressive emails have 25 percent higher unsubscribe rate while it’s only 10 percent for soft email messages.

Moreover, soft email messages have 31 percent more positive response rates and only 13 percent negative response rates.

If you are going to take these results into consideration, and weigh the pros and cons of both hard selling and soft selling, it’s easy to see which one wins.

An important thing that you have to know about affiliate marketing is that its true success lies in long-term success, and not in one-time sales.

Its success also lies in the foundation of trust, loyalty and untainted reputation.

One time sales will give you the instant gratification that you want, instant money in your pockets.

But if you really think about it, of course, it would be more practical to aim for long-term success, which is to build a steady passive income source that would not require you to work as hard as before, and will give you more time to take care of yourself and enjoy your life more.

This is why, soft selling is considered the better approach for your affiliate marketing business.

All the drawbacks of hard selling are the major reasons why hard selling does not work for affiliates.

Not only that, hard selling is also one of the reasons why 95 percent of affiliates fail right from the start. They get too focused on making a sale that they forget about the things that matter more, like helping people out and building a connection with customers to earn their trust and loyalty.

Also, you have to remember that what hard selling gives you—new customers—is not what you really need for your affiliate marketing business to survive for long-term.

Yes, it will help it take off, but to survive in the long run, you need old loyal customers.

It has been proven a number of times that getting a new customer to buy a product is much more difficult than to get loyal customers to buy again from you.

This is something that all affiliates should consider.

But of course, this does not mean that you should completely shun hard selling altogether.

There are some hard selling techniques, that when tweaked a little, can also help improve your soft selling techniques.

For example, if you are giving a free product trial to a customer (this is by the way a soft selling technique), you can incorporate the sense of urgency (which is a form of hard selling technique) to convince your customers to complete the product trial.

As it turns out, affiliate marketing is just like any other type of online business—it takes a lot of time and effort.

But once you’ve established it as a regular stream of passive income, all your work will be worth it.

Make sure that you keep in mind the tips and strategies mentioned in this article regarding the use of hard selling and soft selling techniques so you can make use of the suitable ones for your affiliate marketing business.