Remember when being sold something often involved pushy, over-zealous, salesmen and women? It wasn’t long ago that sales professionals would do anything to drive as many people as possible toward a purchase and create a very unpleasant sales process while doing so. It’s a wonder that approach worked for so many years, but I bet none of us miss it. 

With the internet and digital marketing, a new approach was formed. These two important developments forever changed the landscape of modern selling and the modern consumer. With information literally at their fingertips (and even a simple voice search away), consumers are more informed and savvier than ever. In fact, most have done a ton of research even before their first sales conversation or email, and they’re pretty much immune to and turned off by any aggressive selling tactics. 

Trust + Passive Selling = Nurture

92% of Americans say trust plays a role when making a big purchase decision. Customers aren’t going to use your product or services if they don’t trust you and the brand you represent. And while it may take some time to build that trust, it’s worth it if it means creating a relationship that lasts, and that is mutually beneficial. That’s where the passive selling approach comes in. 

With passive selling, the focus doesn’t rest on closing deals. Instead, you’re focusing on nurturing your leads by providing them with information tailored to their specific needs. It’s about giving your prospects the right tools to make their own educated decisions instead of aggressively pushing them toward a sale — a tactic that can destroy any semblance of trust and leave prospects with negative impressions of your company.

The Principles Behind Passive Selling

Effective passive selling is all about knowing your customers — their pain points, their behaviors, and their needs. It helps to have a marketing automation tool that can score your leads based on where they are in their journey and the actions they take on your site, as well as give you insight into what they do, their industry, and why they’re considering using your product or service line. Having this information only assures you’re sending them personalized content they can actually use. 

Tools aside, passive selling also involves listening to what your customers want and being willing to customize your product or service if that means it better helps them meet their goals.

It involves using analytics for data-driven insights and making a pointed effort to really know your leads. You have to be prepared to use marketing techniques that don’t always have a sale as their end goal.

Passive Selling and the Buyer’s Journey

To use this approach, first, understand and identify where your buyers are in their journey. After all, being able to anticipate your customers’ needs is preferable to just throwing a ton of information at them and seeing what sticks. Let’s examine each stage, what buyers at that stage are typically needing, and the kinds of personalized content you to share at each stage so you can facilitate passive selling effectively. 


Consumers at this stage have an issue they need resolved and are typically conducting online searches and research to find a solution. They’ve come across your company and are just becoming aware of who you are and what you do. They are intrigued and have decided to download a piece of gated content or to subscribe to your email marketing to learn more.

Personalized content to send: Since they’re still understanding what it is you do, make sure you send them essential content that easily explains exactly what it is your company does, your industry, and how you help solve your clients’ problems. 


By now, prospects have received your messaging for a while, and therefore are more familiar with what you do. They’re starting to seriously consider working with you or using your product and are weighing the advantages against other options. 

Personalized content to send: After engaging with them further, perhaps you’ve discovered the specific area they really need help with. Send them longer-form content that goes into more depth about that particular area, a case study that explains how you helped a client with the same goal/issue, or more information on your packages and pricing. 


This is a crucial moment. It’s the part of the buyer’s journey when prospects decide to work with you, or they decide to go with another company. 

Personalized content to send: Enroll leads in a product or service demo, as well as send them customer testimonials and case studies to show proof of positive results. It’s also not a bad idea to send them product comparisons.   

While the specifics of engagement may change from customer to customer, the pattern of passive selling stays the same. The idea is that you offer more and more personalized information without putting forward an expectation of immediate results. Customers get to proceed at their own pace, and you end up with a foundational connection that is poised for brand loyalty and a long relationship.

It’s tough to fake integrity today as a business. Peer-to-peer reviews and high rates of competition mean that customers are quick to see through the B.S. and have plenty of other options to fall back on. Therefore, you have to cultivate an environment of trust that puts your prospects first and acknowledges their importance. Provide your customers with educated, informed content, and try to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry through non-transaction-driven endeavors.