If you had to rate your own personal effort at building sales rapport or creating connections with customers over the past year, how would you fare?
The ability to build rapport is one of those skills that we as sales professionals tend to take for granted. You might think, I’m likeable or I’m a funny guy – and consider it a given that your customers pick up on these traits – and further – that they appreciate them and figure them into their purchasing decisions.
However, the key to building rapport is two-sided. Spoiler alert: it’s not all about YOU. We all hate to hear that, but perhaps no one quite as much as your customer. They want it to be about THEM.
Here are some refresher tips on creating connections (that you can focus on developing now and take into the new year).
Know your stuff – it exudes intelligence.
Research shows that people value intelligence over other factors like beauty, age, and wealth when choosing friends and partners. Demonstrate intelligence by knowing your company, your products, your competition, your industry, and the business world in general. Read a lot, about everything. And not so you can rattle off facts or statistics, but because you’ll feel more comfortable and confident.
Use empathy – it shows kindness.
When you hear an objection, always begin your response with an empathetic statement such as “I understand...” or “I certainly see how...” And sound genuine, like you mean it.
Don’t lie – it’ll only come back to bite you later.
Don’t say your product or service will do something it can’t. Focus on what your product or service does do. Don’t tell the gatekeeper that your cold call isn’t a sales call when asked “Is this a sales call?” instead say, “Yes it is” and insist upon the importance of speaking to the decision maker. Because what you do is important.
Use body language – yes, even over the phone.
While the majority of information communicated is gathered through visual cues, it doesn’t mean people can’t sense the passion and belief in your voice. Your body language is so ingrained into how well you speak, that you must continue to use it even when it can’t be seen. So stand up to sound confident. Use your hands when you talk. Smile. All of the same things you would do if the person on the phone were sitting in front of you.
Pay attention – be a good listener.
Good listening skills communicate that you care about what the other person is saying. The best way to make people interested in you is to show interest in them. (Hence, the aforementioned spoiler alert.) This is crucial to maintaining rapport as the sales interaction evolves. If you ask a question, listen to the response rather than plan your next statement. Paraphrase your customer’s message to communicate that you hear and understand them. Use their keywords.
Refine your sound – especially when selling over the phone.
The actual sound of your voice can be a big turn-on or a big turn-off. You can communicate a good deal of confidence, intelligence, kindness and warmth through the tone of your voice. When you do, it can be magnetic. Practice your presentation aloud. And when you’re a consumer yourself, experiment with how the sound of your voice makes people respond differently.
Be positive – believe in what you do.
Do not allow negativity from anywhere to sneak in and steal your thunder. Yes, be realistic, especially when evaluating your performance with solid data, but view good criticism and feedback as just another opportunity for you to improve. And pass it along by being a resource of positive thinking for others.
To see rapport-building in action...if you appreciated this article, let us know! It can be the start of a beautiful friendship.