As the old saying goes, people have to buy you before they buy your product. As sales expert Erik Luhrs explained last week in our online class, if you want to become a more successful seller it is essential that you build rapport with your customers.
Rapport is about being in tune with your potential buyers. Your goal should be to establish relationships with your customers in which they feel you can relate to them and fully understand their needs and concerns. Rapport helps establish trust and people like to buy from people they trust – therefore building rapport is a great way you can obtain that extra edge with your customers.
Paul Castain, one of our Top 50 Sales Bloggers, offers 10 ways to better build rapport with your customers. For more information and useful advice on this topic take a look at our online class Rapport: The Building Block of Sustainable Selling with top sales expert Erik Luhrs.
A sales trainer walks into a room of sales reps and asks them how they build rapport and guess how they respond?
“I generally look around my prospect’s office to see what they are interested in and make conversation based on what I see.”
You saw that one coming right? Do you think that approach might be a tad predictable too?
Just for the heck of it, here are 10 things for you to think about, beyond scanning the office for things to comment on.
1. Make precall planning a priority. There’s so much information available these days about companies and prospects, salespeople need to take advantage of it if they expect to gain the inside track. Social media pages and search engines are great ways to learn about top prospects not only on a corporate level, but also on a personal one. Little details may provide just the opening you need to earn a prospect’s attention.
2. Assume prospects will research you. Salespeople need to stop fooling themselves into believing prospects aren’t spending just as much time learning about them, their company and other competitive offers as salespeople themselves spend on prospects. With that in mind, it makes sense to create an online footprint (web profile, blog, social media profiles, etc.) that speaks to your professionalism and experience.
3. Have an elevator pitch ready at all times. There may be occasions where the best you can do is provide 30 seconds worth of info and exchange business cards. If you want the prospect to remember you when it comes time to follow up, what will you say during those 30 seconds to make an indelible impression?
4. Ask better questions. The person asking the questions is the person controlling the conversation. Develop a list of preset questions you can resort to when a meeting or cold call isn’t going smoothly. Try to uncover hidden needs and allow prospects to explain their biggest obstacles to you, so you can tailor your solutions accordingly.
5. Do twice as much listening as talking. If you ask the right questions, this shouldn’t be a problem. Otherwise, you’re probably losing opportunities on a regular basis due to information overload.
6. Engage more than one contact at the prospect’s company. The more key influencers you build rapport with, the more perspectives you have to learn the company’s buying process from — and the better chance you have of winning a consensus (if the purchasing decision comes down to a group of decision makers).
7. Know when to be silent. Sometimes it’s best to remain silent and give prospects a few seconds to process a question. Jumping in to resolve the uncomfortable silence is the same as cutting the prospect off. Give them time to think. The answers they provide may be extremely valuable.
8. Become a student of corporate culture. Learn the jargon, industry terms, buying process … everything that makes the prospect’s organization distinctive. The more prospects can loosen up and discuss issues with you on an expert-to-expert level, the more comfortable they’ll feel doing business with you.
9. Underpromise and overdeliver. Make it a point to always provide everything prospects ask for and a little something extra that lets them know you listen and you care.
10. Schedule meetings outside the office. Prospects are much more likely to let their hair (and their guard) down at sporting events, restaurants, happy hours and any other number of social meeting places where you can mix business and pleasure.
Between his unrestrained commentary and enthusiastic personality, this master of sales has a way of immediately grabbing your attention in each and every one of his blog posts. Paul Castain has over 25 years of experience in sales and sales leadership and offers all-around advice in his blog on how to become more successful both in your professional career and personal life.
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