Some people are, simply stated, very charming.
In all actuality though, those people who seem naturally gifted aren’t doing anything all that complicated.
Those salespeople who seem like they were born to do this, in fact, weren’t.
Charming people have compiled many specific strategies (subconscious or not) that they bring into the conversation to help establish strong rapport and ultimately trust.
That trust is what creates sales, referrals and recommendations.
Additionally, it creates long term partnerships that will lead you to even more success in the future.
When I worked in car sales selling Mazda I ran into a lady that wanted to buy a used vehicle at my sister store that was a Ford dealership.
I thought it was odd that she was coming to my store first instead of just going straight to the Ford location.
On the way there she told me that she had a terrible interaction with the salesperson who sold her the first car that she bought from that store.
She got in an accident and wanted to buy the exact same vehicle with the insurance pay out and a small finance.
The previous salesman had shafted her on the price, lied about several key features on the vehicle and was very aggressive with her.
She still bought the car but promised herself that she would never work with that same salesperson again.
This is exactly what can happen if you don’t take the time to build trust with your prospect.
This happened because of a blatant lack of concern for her perspective.
I bet you can guess that this lady never referred any business his way, I am certain that she actively told people to avoid this man and steer clear of him when visiting the dealership.
The sad part is I know this was not the first time, this salesman was known for his hard hitting approach which in the world today is very out of date and ineffective.
If your leads are actively dodging you, you did something wrong.
We as consumers make so many of our decisions in a selling environment based on a “gut feeling.” We ask ourselves, does this person have my best interests in mind or are they only trying to fatten their wallet?
It is your job as a salesperson to make sure that your approach, your performance more specifically, is genuine, well thought out and is malleable enough to use with any prospect.
Here are my top 7 suggestions on how you can effectively champion strong rapport with a new sales lead:
1. PUT THE FOCUS ON THEM
Give a synopsis of who you are and what your company can do to improve the prospects life. Detail is good but don’t be too long winded about it.
Immediately transition the conversation into talking about them and their needs. Be natural, ask open ended questions and always remember have a conversation not an interrogation.
Unless they ask to learn more about you which is fine some people like to get to know their salesperson before getting into the meat and potatoes of the conversation. Other people are the polar opposite.
No matter the scenario always make your primary focus the prospects needs.
The world we operate in today requires a lot of personalized service. It is what the vast majority of people require.
The most important thing to remember is that if you don’t appeal to your customers desires, there is someone else that will happily fill your place.
2. SEPARATE FRIENDLINESS FROM CURIOSITY
This first time interacting with your new lead should be based around discovering more about their desires and figuring out how to orient your product/service to those needs.
In the same breath you also have to build trust with that purchaser in your abilities as a consultant. This can easily lead a charismatic person down the road towards talking heavily about oneself.
Let your customer lead you there.
The person you are interacting with may just be trying to create small talk and be polite when they ask you questions about your experience.
You respond like any normal person would but in all actuality, they want to get down to brass tax.
I am not saying you should learn how to read minds but It is very important that you do your best to separate friendliness from curiosity.
Your client could also be the opposite and they want to know your credentials and get a proper read on you first well before the real conversation starts.
Every client is different and you do not want to get bogged down creating unnecessary small talk when you could have been giving your presentation and vice versa.
3. PRONOUNCE THEIR NAME CORRECTLY
When working over the phones in email marketing sales I found it difficult to get names right.
I would accidentally use the feminine pronunciation of a name that is spelled in the masculine.
This was secretly offending my customer until my trainer jumped into my cubicle interrupting my call to correct the record. It was too late and the conversation went poorly after that.
This point really goes into a much broader category of listening to what your customer is saying from the onset. You may be ready to start showing the product features (especially on a car lot) but if you cannot pronounce someones name correctly you certainly cannot enter them into a database without error or avoid pissing them off every time you interact.
In a high pressure selling environment like real estate or car sales, your purchaser will look for every reason to not work with you, they are spending a lot of money and they need to feel like they are being respected.
4. BE PLEASANT
Tone-match your prospect.
Don’t come at them with too much energy. Meet them where they are and it will help the client feel much more comfortable talking to you.
If you are screaming into a head set, or laughing when there is really nothing to laugh at, you are clearly not connecting with the person in the way that they need and this is, unfortunately, incredibly awkward.
Pay attention to this, if you aren’t noticing any issues, ask your fellow co-workers what they think.
They could provide you knowledge about your approach that you did not notice before.
5. DON’T MAKE THEM FEEL SMALL
When I sold life insurance, we would meet with our customers in their homes.
I worked with this lady who would often make very inappropriate comments when working with mobile home owners.
She would enter into these types of appointments and on several occasions state “Wow, it’s so nice in here for a trailer!” I would witness the off camera look between spouses as they thought “Wow, your very rude lady!”
Don’t let bias fill the shoes of your perspective.
My coworker definitely did in these scenarios.
Despite what her opinions were, she could have kept them to herself and not inflicted such a backhanded compliment in the first minute of our meeting.
This example is more insulting than anything else. The point is when you know so much about something and you are in the role of educating a prospect on the benefits it is very easy to say something that unavoidably makes them feel lesser.
Either less educated or less experienced.
Maybe later on in the sales process after you have established trust this can be necessary but the last thing you want is an accidental back handed compliment to cause the buyer to feel uncomfortable working with you.
6. GENUINE COMPLIMENTS ARE GREAT
Emphasis on the genuine part.
When I sold cars I had a coworker that would literally flirt with every single customer that came on the lot and he was also a major kiss-ass.
Instead of focusing on building value through discovery he would hand out compliments to mothers who were visiting the dealership with their several decades younger daughters and he would say “Are you both sisters?” I witnessed many eye rolls at this question.
If you have a compliment to give make sure it is based around something important, rather than telling them they have a great outfit or flashy accessory compliment their sense of knowledge about a specific subject, help them feel smart, let it come from your heart.
Especially, if you work in a person-to-person selling environment, you can spend a lot time with your client before they make up their mind.
If you notice something you appreciate that is beyond the superficial, share it and give that person a confidence boost.
My wife visits this local boutique and every single employee that works there is a salesperson.
You can tell this the second you enter the store when they immediately compliment some random article of clothing that you have “I love your blouse! I love your hat! I love your jacket, where did you get it!?”
These are not genuine compliments and they don’t hold a whole lot of water in a conversation.
I get it, this is a clothing boutique, the clothes basically sell themselves but the point is that good heartfelt compliments are much more effective than surface level ones.
This is one of the best ways to make anyone feel good about the prospect of being your prospect.
After all the whole point of rapport building is to build trust and in the very first interactions of a sales conversation you want to cater to the purchasers ego and help them feel good, therefore feeling good about working with you and eventually buying from you.
7. STAY VALUE FOCUSED
The most important part, value building!
Remind them constantly of the value you bring to the interaction.
If you work for one of the highest rated marketing service providers for small businesses in the U.S. make sure you mention that and let them know you are looking forward to helping them grow their business.
It is important that the brand promise that was communicated to the customer before they decided to get in touch with the company matches up with what you believe as well.
There is an obvious benefit for them to be talking to you, that is why your title as an employee ends with “Consultant” not “Salesperson.” You are here to consult that person and help them make the best decision for their lives.
In all actuality you are, of course, supposed to be making sales but don’t let that be the forefront of what you do.
Double down on the consulting aspect and make it the oil of your sales engine. They may know you are a salesperson but the more you can help them the less likely they are to care.