When it comes to sales, it is vital to immediately establish and maintain rapport with your prospect. To enjoy the rewards of the maxim, “people do business with those they know, like and trust,” you have to put in the effort to build rapport.
If you don’t have trust, people won’t share important information and insights with you. And you need those insights in order to frame your solution in a way that will be relevant and meaningful for your prospective customer.
One way to establish trust is to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of their situation and problems.
Many sales professionals put the cart before the horse. They think they know their prospect’s problems. But they don’t. It’s usually because they haven’t implemented three simple words in their conversation with a prospect.
First Question: Open up a prospect with three simple words
One day, my mobile phone rang with an unfamiliar phone number filling the screen. However, since it was from the nearby area, I answered it.
A sales trainer I met recently at a networking event was calling. It was obvious from the start of the conversation that it was a prospect call. However, he immediately did something the majority of salespeople do: he pitched me.
Now this sales guy is a nice guy, but I was a bit disappointed that he immediately launched into pitching his solution instead of finding out about me and my current situation. He asked very few questions and instead seemed more interested in uncovering whether or not I could afford his services.
What would have made a bigger impact was if he had asked what I was currently doing to market myself and then… listen.
One of the biggest complaints buyers have about sales professionals is that they are more interested in talking than in listening.
If you want to create opportunities, it is critical to allow the buyer to speak and then for you to listen.
The most powerful three words you can say is after your prospect has answered your question is this:
Tell me more.
When you say those three words, and then stop talking and listen, your prospect immediately feels like you care. You’re showing interest in what they have to say. You’re probing for more information and a prospective customer understands that what they are sharing with you will receive some level of analysis.
Second Question: Engage the prospect with new ideas
By listening, you are demonstrating your desire to understand the buyer’s business. This is a powerful method to build rapport and trust.
Once a prospect begins to tell you about their business issues in more detail, then you can follow up with another question.
What will it take to solve this?
A sales professional will often think that if he has a prospect’s perspective of the problem, then it’s time to swoop in with the solution.
But this is missing an important aspect of building rapport. You don’t want to jump to conclusions, which can happen when you don’t have the complete picture.
Instead, get the prospect’s view of their solution.
You then will be able to identify key points that can position your offering as the solution to their problems. But you can only get to this point if you ask questions about a prospect’s most pressing concerns, listen, and then get an understanding of what they think would be a viable solution.
Keep probing until you find a problem that the buyer agrees is important that your capabilities can uniquely solve. Once you have confirmation from the buyer, you have a much stronger chance of winning their business.