Have you ever left a presentation feeling like you nailed it and yet were shocked to find out later they chose to work with someone else?
You may have even been hands down the clear choice based on your experience, superior product, and track record!
So what happened?
Often sales are lost and communications go awry because we are simply not in rapport with our customers. Surprisingly most sales people have very little sales versatility. I read recently that if we are not consciously working on building rapport with the people we meet then we are likely repelling over 50% of them instantly.
A scary thought isn’t it?
If you want to earn more money this year, as I am sure most of you do, then you have a choice- you can prospect more or you can get better at winning a higher percentage of your prospects and opportunities by improving your sales versatility.
What is sales versatility you may ask? It’s your ability to make your clients feel so comfortable with you that they lower their guard and let you in. It’s the ability to establish rapport instantly with anyone and everyone, no matter what their personality style is like, their social situation, or their what their culture might be.
While some people were just lucky enough to be born with natural charisma, most of us though need to work on it. People with Charisma have this magical way of making everyone who encounters them feel special.
Improving your “charm quotient” can be broken down into a few clear steps and techniques. I will warn you though that while the steps are pretty simple, mastering the habit of putting them into practice will take hard work.
To get us started let’s begin by understanding that people like to be with people who are just like them. We all seek out those we are most comfortable with, look at your friends- most likely you share common interests. You probably speak at about the same rate of speed and you most likely use many of the same words and phrases. This didn’t happen by accident, you connected with them because they communicate like you do.
Of course we may get lucky and occasionally meet clients who we naturally connect with, and these are the clients you find so easy to work with. However, since we have already decided that to make more money more easily we will need to work on our ability to meet all the clients where they are at and make them feel that we are part of their tribe.
Steps To Building Rapport:
● Before you go into any meeting with a client think about how they communicate, think about what personality style they might have. Are they very analytical and will need data to make a decision or are they a driver personality and likely to be very impatient?
Maybe they are very expressive and will want to be entertained or maybe they are amiable and will need to proceed slowly and will make most decisions for emotional reasons.
I would suggest that all salespeople take the DISC test, this will help you understand your own personality, which will in turn help you understand how your personality may affect those around you.
For example if you are a hard core driver, you will need to tone it down when working with an amiable customer or you will be likely to steamroll right over them.
If you are expressive and working with a driver you will have to control how much you like to speak, instead get to the point and give them the bottom line.
Of course we can’t ask our clients to take a DISC test but we can look for cues or clues that will give us hints as to their dominate style.
Next on our list of critical steps to build rapport:
● Mirror and match their rate of speech, tone of voice, and speech pattern. If you are a fast talker and they are a slow talker you will stress them out and they will not be able to keep up with you. If you are a slow talker and they are a fast talker you will bore them. Think of it like a thermostat- you’re dialing it up or down to match them.
● To build rapport ask great questions! We all talk too much about ourselves. In fact I read in a book recently that 95% of what people think about all day is ourselves, and that most of the time we’re speaking, it’s about ourselves and our own interests.
When you demonstrate a sincere interest in your customers and ask questions about things that are important to them, they love you!
Leading your clients to make a decision by asking a series of great questions is also a much gentler way to close them, because great questions help them self discover what they need to do.
As you are asking your questions here are a few key points to remember:
● Go into any sales call or meeting with at least 3-5 quality questions prepared. Write them on an index card and take them to the meeting with you. It’s fine to say, “I wrote down a few important questions, would it be okay if I asked them?” Watch how they instantly perk up, ready to answer.
● Use question softeners when you ask a series of questions and don’t want it to sound like an interrogation. You can soften your questions with “I’m curious” or “I was wondering” or “may I ask.”
● Ask open-ended questions whenever possible to gain a deeper understanding. Those are questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how and will help you get to the heart of the matter.
● Acknowledge and approve- we all crave approval! Sprinkle approval and acknowledgement words and phrases into the conversation. “Great, terrific, excellent, really, I can appreciate that”. Also find something that you can sincerely compliment them for, the key here is sincerity!
● Practice physical approval; maintain eye contact, nod your head, and take notes.
● If they hit you with an objection, take a breath, relax, ask a clarifying question to be sure you understand what they are objecting to and then handle it calmly. If you get nervous, change your rate of speech, or seem irritated by the objection, you will instantly lose all rapport.
People are like puzzles. It’s interesting that while we’re all very complex, we are also all very simple at our cores. We want to be appreciated for who we are, we want to be recognized and acknowledged, and we want to feel that the people we work with actually care. When you demonstrate that you care they will love you.
The Puzzle Pieces:
- How they dress
- Their culture
- The words and phrases they habitually use
- How much they smile
- Their rate of speech
- How they process information
- How they make decisions
Become a detective, look for the cues and clues that will help you understand them and quickly gain rapport, remember persuasion does not occur easily without rapport!