Monday, 20 July 2015

Soft-Power Selling attracts and co-opts buyers.

In negotiation, power at the start of he process is seen to be equally or nearly balanced since there is an agreement in principle.

During a commercial negotiation, power swings to and fro in the exchanges.

In Selling, on the other hand, the power tends to lean towards the Buyer’s side whether to engage or not up the point of the close / agreement.

In "soft selling", the salesperson uses a more subtle, casual, or friendly way to convey the sales message.

As the changes of  power in countries  from the West to  the East , so sales people (who can be viewed as a microcosm of their country) may need to develop their skills in soft power selling.

Soft power as a concept, was developed by Joseph Nye at Harvard University to describe the ability to attract and co-opt rather than coerce, use force or give money as a means of persuasion. His primary work was on countries but he developed it to applications in Leadership in 2008.
The iconic '99'  the allure of the soft sell !


If we by extension consider soft power as part of a salesperson’s skill set some interesting things result.

Soft power attracts even on the south bank 
of the Thames - Golden Jubilee Bridge in background
The primary currencies of soft power are a salesperson's values, culture, policies and institutions – and the extent to which these "primary currencies", as Nye calls them, are is the ability to attract or repel other. salespeople people to persuade buyers to "want what you want."

Nye  describes  elsewhere that soft power is the ability to attract and co-opt rather than coerce, use force or give money ( discounting) as a means of persuasion.

Nye argues that soft power is more than influence, since influence can also rest on the hard power of threats or payments.

 Soft power is more than just persuasion or the ability to move people by argument, though that is an important part of it.
 It is also the ability to attract, and attraction often leads to consent.

 SOURCE   Power 30 index 
The development of the Soft Power index produces an international table which this year puts the UK top. (There are not too many such tables  with UK on top as once were !)

In this new and evolving context, soft power – the ability to achieve objectives through attraction, and persuasion – is ever more crucial to the effective conduct of foreign policy and ultimately shaping global events.

But using soft power is impossible without a clear understanding of the resources that underpin it.

What underpins Soft Power ?

This index is an  assessment and comparison of global soft power – aims to bring new clarity and understanding to the soft power resources of the world’s major nations.
Soft power seeks to achieve influence by :-

  • building networks,
  • communicating compelling narratives,
  • establishing international rules,
  • and drawing on the resources that make a country naturally attractive to the world, as opposed to gun boat diplomacy!

All these are recognisable skills to a modern salesperson.

The various metrics used to make up the index are divided into 6 categories.

Engagement, Culture, Government Education Digital and Enterprise.

For a country these categories are defined as

The strength of a country’s diplomatic network and its contribution to global engagement and development

The global reach and appeal of a nation’s cultural outputs, both pop-culture and high-culture

Commitment to freedom, human rights, and democracy, and the quality of political institutions

The level of human capital in a country, contribution to scholarship, and attractiveness to international students

A country’s digital infrastructure and its capabilities in digital diplomacy

The attractiveness of a country’s economic model, business friendliness, and capacity

There are of course opponents to Nye who argue power is rested on economic incentives and force.

Simply the Best
The 'Tina Turner' of  Soft Ice Creams
- the '99' flake
Few salespeople would want to resort entirely to soft power but as part of our palette, we will need to draw upon it increasingly.

So we might adapt the 'six' categories into:

  • Engagement, Prospecting New Business Development , Networking 
  • Culture, Ambassadorial and Diplomatic : Selling style
  • Administration/ Account Management
  • Training  
  • Digital literacy : Social Media
  • and Entrepreneurship

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