The main question that’s asked at our sales training program is ‘How do I close more sales?’
We’ve found that one of the best answers to that question lies in understanding people and knowing how to adapt your behaviour to best meet their needs. This is generally known as ‘building rapport.’
Building rapport in sales is however very different from other kinds of rapport building.
Pretty much every sales conversation you’ll ever engage in has five distinct stages of rapport building. And in sales, it’s your ability to guide people through each of these stages that makes or breaks your sales targets. Knowing how to say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right person is exactly what you need for great sales outcomes – for both you and your customers.
So today we’re sharing the five stages of building rapport to increase sales.
This is all about the first impression you make in the first few minutes of a sales conversation and is the most crucial. People will decide whether you’re the kind of person they’d like to do business with or not, so the whole focus of making contact with them initially is to open up lines of communication.
Do you know how to listen to determine the kind of language constructs and responses that resonate with different personalities? Do you know the right words that really ring different people’s bells? Do you know how to determine the right tone and pace for each different person? When you do, it can help you do the vital work of connecting within seconds.
The second stage of building rapport in sales is exploring. The whole point of exploring is to get a sense of the customer’s needs and work out what an effective solution to those needs might be.
Do you know the right kind of questions to ask to get the right kind of answers? Understanding that different personalities respond to some kinds of question more than others and knowing how to funnel those questions accurately will increase your sales exponentially.
The third stage of rapport building is the collaborating phase. It’s all about working with your potential customer to find a solution that meets their needs. It involves bringing together your ideas and your prospects ideas in ways that provide a solution that makes sense to you both. A big part of it is being able to understand your client’s challenges – in their business, their industry, and in their past, present and future situations. Another big part of it is sharing your product or service knowledge to help get those challenges sorted in ways that feel like you are ‘being with’ the prospect, rather than ‘talking at’ or ‘doing to’ them.
Do you understand what different personality types require of a collaborative exchange? Once you know how to give different people what they need in the ways they need it most, the collaborative process becomes much easier to deliver and is experienced much more potently by your customer.
A commitment from someone in a sales conversation flows naturally out of the exploring and collaborating stages. If you did a good enough job of the first 3 stages of contacting, exploring and collaborating, then the sale will close – seemingly all by itself. This gets rid of the need for any tricky, manipulative ‘closing’ techniques – which are never a good look if you’re aiming to build a long term relationship with a customer.
Great sales people know that the real job of selling starts when the customer says ‘yes’. The work here is all about making sure a customer is completely satisfied. Part of ‘assuring’ is mitigating and overcoming any potential buyer’s regret. When we’re able to ensure complete customer satisfaction, it does two great things – assures repeat business and assures referrals. When you start a sales process, it’s your chance to begin the work of building a solid customer relationship. But it’s what you do after the sale that really makes or breaks the relationship.