Creating & Building Rapport… The Fundamental Element of Sales Success
Editors Note: Expert content needs an expert content writer and Yorkshire Powerhouse is pleased to publish this business advice article on Selling Strategy and Sales Training, kindly written by a real expert in her field – Alison Fell from SalesStar Europe.
Please consider contacting Alison for any aspect of Sales Coaching or Strategic Sales Consultancy – just click on the advert links above or below – and please mention Yorkshire Powerhouse if you do make contact.
It’s fair to say that creating and building rapport has become somewhat of a buzzphrase thrown around in advice articles of late, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fundamental element of sales success. The issue is that many don’t actually understand how to truly build rapport with prospects and in fact, how little time they have to make a great impression.
The best introduction to just how important instant attempts to build rapport are is the 7 Second Rule.
What is the 7 second rule?
It’s a well-known theory that when applied to salespeople, means they have only 7 seconds during their first encounter with a prospect to make a good impression. In reality, that’s nothing – the only time 7 seconds feels like a long time is when you’re waiting for the microwave to ping.
Given then that we have such limited time to build rapport with prospects, how can we possibly do it?
Always be informed
There’s nothing worse than someone trying to sell to you without having a clue what your business is about or what challenges you’re facing right now. That’s why it’s imperative you do your research before engaging with a prospect.
Let’s say for example your cold outreach strategy centres around using LinkedIn Sales Navigator. When you’ve built your lead list based on titles and industry, don’t stop there. Look into their industry a little further. What does the news say they are struggling with most? Also, take a look at their company’s LinkedIn and personal LinkedIn. Can you find anything which suggests they have a particular issue? If you have existing clients in their sector too, think about what your clients struggle with the most and the most common questions they ask. These are a great basis for further research.
However you decided to obtain the background information, make sure you do before you reach out. Otherwise, that 7 seconds you have to impress will go no further.
Listen, truly listen
Ever heard the saying ‘Listen to understand, not to reply?’. This is crucial in sales – and in fact all conversations with anyone. Many people fall foul because they are already thinking about how they are going to reply and what they want to say whilst someone is talking to them. What happens here though is you end up having a transactional conversation rather than building rapport. You miss vital bits of information that you could relate to – everyone knows relatability is a core element of how a relationship is built.
Let’s use one of the most common things said during cold outreach calls. How many times have you heard “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to chat now”? A lot? And I bet you responded with “Is there a better time to chat?”. However, if you’d done your research you’d be better equipped to truly listen to that comment and respond with “I can imagine, I know how xxx is affecting your industry right now, you must be up against it”. Instantly, it reopens the conversation again giving you more time than that all-important 7 seconds to begin building rapport. It’s highly likely they may not have time, but by listening and demonstrating relatability/knowledge, you’ve made them more likely to make time in the future.
Respond, don’t just talk
This element follows nicely from truly listening and if you’ve mastered the art of that, you’ll have no problem responding correctly. In your sales role, you may be using scripts for cold outreach. Truth is, these aren’t always the best option. One reason is, that they encourage you to talk back, not respond. When building rapport, it’s vital conversations are subject to natural progression, and that means responding to what your prospect has said, demonstrating you have listened and understood what they’ve said. In some circumstances, it could even be appropriate to relate to what they are saying. If you’ve had a similar experience, for example, why not share? Of course, don’t be too personal, but demonstrating you can relate to their situation opens the opportunity to build a future relationship.
Business relationships are built on support and trust, that’s why it’s vital to demonstrate this during the first interaction you have with a prospect. Don’t treat them as a potential sale, treat them as someone you wish to be a solution for. How can you do this? Share advice whenever you can. If you’ve nailed the above, you’ll know the kind of advice you can give during your interaction. Of course, it must have some underlying significance to what you do though – offering advice on personal situations will get the relationship going in the wrong direction.
Let’s say for example during your conversation, a prospect shares their frustration with a current system they are using. Listen to what elements they are frustrated by and offer advice on what a potential solution could be. Perhaps you know of an alternative or a better way to use the system? Using your knowledge to offer advice will show the prospect you care and are interested in building a supportive working relationship going forward.
Of course, there’s so much more to building rapport, but these small tips can help you on your way.
The process of understanding your sales funnel, being skilled in following your sales processes and closing sales is a skill that can be learned – seek out expert support and training to take your selling skills to the next level!
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