It's the new soft sell that is moving products at Advance Electronics in New York City these days. The retail computer store is selling a package of Micropro International Corp. business software for $1,595 -- with a Sanyo MBC-1100 microcomputer thrown in for free.

So far, the sales pitch has been extremely effective -- a fact that bears witness to the power of a good marketing ploy, because the deal itself is not unique. Sanyo Business Systems Corp. has long offered the Micropro software (including such programs as WordStar, MailMerge, CalcStar, InfoStar, and SpellStar) bundled in as a bonus with the MBC-1100. Advance Electronics president Julius Neudorfer simply stood that offer on its head, pushing the software instead of the hardware.

"Computers are worthless pieces of hardware," says Neudorfer. "Nobody wants a computer. Everybody wants what the computer does. What matters is the software. Nobody wants a quarter-inch drill bit. They want quarter-inch holes."

Neudorfer's approach is the logical extension of the growing emphasis on software marketing, and his success will no doubt encourage others to follow. He introduced the offer last Labor Day with ads in The New York Times and several computer publications as part of the campaign to launch his microcomputer business. The volume of orders has already allowed him to cut the price from the original $1,995 and start offering other Sanyo computers with the same soft sell. By early this year, he said he had sold 200 units, with some 2,000 on back order.

"It was a very' successful ad," says Arthur Shebar, national sales manager for Sanyo's computer division. "It got a lot of people in the store. His sales were incredible. We've never seen anything like it."

But how does Sanyo feel about having its product offered as a free bonus? "We thought it didn't hurt our rather staid image," Shebar explained, although he added, "It's not something we would have done."