Active vs. Passive Selling

I’ve been working with a client recently setting up an email newsletter campaign for his existing customers. In his office the other day, he asked a very straightforward question that I hear from virtually every one of my clients:

“What are we trying to accomplish here?”

The goal of any marketing campaign varies based on the needs of the business owner behind it. In this case, the client sells insurance policies in Grapevine, Texas and wants to focus on auto insurance for teen drivers. His product has three features that influence his most effective advertising strategy:

  1. Insurance is a universal requirement for most of the visitors who will come to his website.
  2. The insurance industry can be highly competitive.
  3. His product is not unique and the primary selling points will be cost, quality of service, and name recognition.

With this in mind, we’ve been working on tailoring an advertising campaign designed to generate new sales leads and bring new insurance customers to his door. For his product, I believe that passive email marketing will yield the greatest results.

What’s the difference between active and passive selling?

Active Selling

To actively sell a product means that your goal is to seek out individuals and a) make them aware that your products exists, and b) convince them that they need to buy it.

Active selling is most effective for new products that people may not be aware of – a new service your company offers, a new invention, or a new website that’s just been released. Actively selling a product is considerably more difficult than passive selling because it’s hard to convince people that they need a product they’ve never heard of!

Some examples of active selling include:

  • Cold-calls and phone solicitations,
  • sales pitch websites,
  • bulk spam mail.

Passive Selling

On the other hand, passive selling is considerably easier and often produces better results. Passively selling a product means that your user base is already aware of what you have to offer, and your only goal is to stand out in their mind as a preferred source to acquire it.

It is never easier to sell a product then when people come to you asking to buy it.

In the example above, the vast majority of Americans need insurance at some point in their lives. By sending out helpful emails related to the insurance industry on a regular basis, my client continually reminds his base that he is an excellent source for insurance and that he is available to help them when needed. All he has to do is be ready to answer the phone when it rings!

Some examples of passive selling include:

  • Newsletter mailers,
  • follow up phone calls and sales visits,
  • content rich websites.

How can I use this to improve my sales?

The difference between the two selling techniques can be subtle and is reflected in things like the wording sent out in newsletter campaigns and the type of website you maintain.

If you’re selling a product that’s not a new idea (real estate, insurance, auto sales, financial consulting, etc.) consider increasing the amount of effort you spend to passively sell your product and see if your results improve. Here are a few simple ideas to improve your passive selling efforts:

  • Maintain a content rich website that lends credibility to your expertise. When people shop for your product, they will probably have questions that need to be answered. If you have a website that provides those answers up front, they will be more likely to buy from you.
  • Keep in touch with your clients on a regular schedule. Use a calendar or some automated program to plan follow up visits and regular emails to touch base. Providing your existing clients with useful bits of information in your field can be an excellent way to stand out when they need your service or when they need to make a recommendation to someone else.