Top Characteristic Part Six is difficult for many sales people to develop and practice, yet it’s one of the most important of skills to cultivate. And it is:
Top Characteristic Part Six: Learn to build rapport before, during and after a sale.
While most people think that sales people have the “gift of gab” and can seemingly talk to anybody, it’s not that way at all. If you don’t believe me, just listen to a few of your own recordings or those of your teammates…
The truth is, knowing how to honestly and naturally build rapport with someone takes a lot of skill, practice and patience. Unfortunately, most sales reps are in a tremendous hurry to get their pitch out and so they treat many prospects as an obstacle to go through to get a sale.
This is a big problem.
Years ago, my first sales manager (my older brother, Peter), taught me an important lesson. As I rushed through a pitch to qualify and then tried to close people, he told me that I was missing out on the most important thing – connecting with and treating people with respect and with genuine interest.
He told me, “Michael, these are people you’re speaking with. Treat them as such and you’ll go much further than you are now.”
It took a while for me to lower my guard and overcome my fear of rejection, but as I got more successful, I began to develop a genuine interest in the people I was speaking with. Once I remembered that they had lives, responsibilities, fears and goals just like me, it made talking to them, rather than at them, so much easier.
And once I did that, it was much easier to build real rapport.
You’ve probably all heard the saying that people buy from people they like, know and trust, right? When selling over the phone, learning how to develop genuine rapport will help get someone to like, know and begin to trust you.
There are three areas that you can learn to develop rapport: before (during the initial qualifying call), during (during the close or presentation), and after (once your prospect becomes a client).
Here are some tips on how to build rapport during all three stages:
1) On the prospecting call. This is perhaps the hardest time to do this because your prospect doesn’t know anything about you other than that you’re a sales rep trying to sell them something. This is when their defenses are the highest.
The way to build rapport during this phase is to concentrate on relating with them right in the beginning – before you start pitching. You do this by asking any number of things like how the weather is (“Is it still over a 100 degrees there?”), or by asking how the new conversion or transition is going, or if they’re super busy now that it’s Monday, or if they’re relieved that it’s Friday. Find some common ground and build some rapport around it before you launch into your pitch. Your goal is to try to build a connection before you put your sales person’s hat on.
One good way to do this also is to develop a touch point plan of leaving voice mails and sending emails if you’re not able to reach someone right away. By leaving a carefully constructed series of messages beforehand, you can start your conversation by asking if they received your messages and if they’ve had a chance to read them yet. If not, then build rapport as above before you go into your pitch.
Building rapport this way takes a little practice, but if you truly become interested in each and every person you speak with, they’ll feel it and you’ll separate yourself from all the other sales reps just trying to sell them. Believe me, this will pay dividends…
2) Build rapport during your presentation. Most sales reps are in a hurry to get through their pitch so they can see if a prospect is going to buy or not. This is not only bad technique but it is also rude.
Top producers, on the other hand, continue their interest in their prospect and concentrate on having a conversation throughout their presentation rather than making their pitch a monologue. The way you do this is by putting lots of tie downs, open ended questions and even trial closes into your presentation. Your goal should be to check in with and involve your prospect in a conversation rather than give a pitch.
An example of this is by checking in with your prospect after you’ve given a benefit or explained how something works. Asking things like, “How would that fit in with what you’re doing,” or “Would that help you?” is a good start.
Using open ended questions is good, too. Instead of asking, “Are you with me?” you should ask, “What questions do you have for me so far?”
By building rapport in this way, you also begin getting an idea of how interested or engaged your prospect is. The more engaged they are, the better your chances of advancing the sale.
Spend some time this week to rewrite your demo or presentation giving your prospect opportunities to acknowledge, engage and ask lots of questions. The more rapport you can build during the close, the better.
3) After the sale. Many sales reps are surprised to hear this, but aftercare of a new client is just as important as getting one to begin with. Most sales forget a client once their check is in, but top producers know that right after a prospect has purchased is the best time to either up sell them or get a referral.
And the way you do this is by once again having a conversation and expanding upon your rapport. Get in the habit of calling your new clients a week or so out just to see how they’re doing. Offer any assistance and continue to develop a relationship with them.
If you have a chance to offer an additional service or product, do so. If not, then have your referral script handy.
Also, consider drip marketing to your new customer by using a greeting card system such as Send Out Cards. The more you can “touch” your new client, the stickier they are going to become and the more likely you’ll be able to do more and longer term business with them.
In conclusion, building rapport seems to be a lost art for many sales people. This is why most people (yourself included) hate getting calls from sales reps. But top producers know the value in treating people with respect and with genuine interest.
By doing so, you can not only develop a long and loyal customer base, but you can begin to enjoy what you do more as well. Sounds like a win/win to me.