Whether you are new to sales, or a seasoned veteran, the ability to establish rapid rapport with prospects is the most important skill to closing more sales.
Today, building rapport in sales requires that we consider different environments.
Establishing trust and rapport in person, for example, is different from doing the same online.
When I first began a career in sales, I spent considerable time talking to prospects, learning about their priorities, and, most importantly, what brought them out to the dealership.
The time I took was frowned upon by my sales manager at the time, as he suggested I was wasting time.
He was only partially correct.
Being new, I had no problem building rapport and trust, but struggled with knowing when the right time was to move to the next step in the sales process.
So, after spending 45 minutes talking to a prospect in the parking lot, they'd often drive away, promising to get back to me.
They often did, but they'd call to tell me they had bought from another dealership in the early days.
I'm not kidding.
My sales manager just scratched his head and said, "Why would they call you to tell them they bought a car somewhere else?"
Because I had built rapport during our time together.
It wasn't until I became more seasoned in sales that I gained confidence in moving our parking lot conversations to the office to review numbers and eventually close the deal.
Once I made this connection, my sales soared.
I went from the lowest sales of the month amongst a sales team of 7 to the top sales performer, all in three months.
To this day, I advise my coaching clients that sometimes you need to slow down the sale to speed up. In other words, take time early on to build rapport, and the sale (and close) requires less effort.
Three essential steps to building rapid rapport with prospects:
1. Be Curious
Curiosity has gotten a bad rap with the old adage "curiosity killed the cat".
When it comes to building rapport with prospects, being curious demonstrates caring. To be clear, I'm not suggesting you ask your prospect "why," but rather, when they share their needs, ask them why they are considering your product or service and how they expect it might help them?
We can learn the underlying objectives behind our prospect's inquiry or needs by being curious. Furthermore, we demonstrate a genuine interest, which can serve to build rapport rapidly.
2. Help Others to Help Yourself
A year ago, my car was making what I thought was a loud banging noise in the front when I drove over bumps. So, I took it to the local dealer, fully expecting they'd want to replace several expensive components.
To my surprise, the service manager returned after 20 minutes and said, "The banging you hear is just the stiff suspension these cars have. You're good to go, and there's no charge."
When we change our mindset from "I'm here to sell you something" to "How can I help?" we become a helpful resource that further elevates our rapport with prospects.
3. Share Relevant Information
A recent Gartner study confirmed that decision-making for today's buyers is increasingly complex. For this reason, when we share information and resources that help our buyers in their decision-making process, we become trusted and confident.
The obvious question is, how do these steps apply when attempting to build rapport online. Of course, the stages themselves do not change; however, what does change is how we communicate.
Think about the last time you bought something online.
You likely viewed an ad or post by someone several times before it became evident that you might be interested in the product or service yourself.
Then you engage using anyone of various channels, including email, chat, text, telephone, or WhatsApp.
Too often find that the sales teams I work with predominantly use email as their primary means of outreach and communication with prospects.
Did you know that less than 20% of business emails get opened?
Furthermore, increasingly sensitive email spam filters ensure unrecognized emails go unread.
We need a multi-channel communication strategy.
Although I'll admit that email is a commonly used communication tool and, therefore, an obvious choice, you also have to realize that a big part of prospecting is getting noticed.
In other words, if you are using email, so is your competition.
So even if you break through the barriers mentioned above, the chances of standing out are slim to nil.
Consider instead incorporating more video and personalized messages.
Tools like Vidyard, Bomb Bomb, allow you to share personalized videos quickly.
LinkedIn is a growing resource for connecting with and communicating with prospects.
Direct mail is also an under-used and, therefore, an excellent method to set yourself apart and get noticed by your prospect. After all, who doesn't want to open personalized mail?
Ramping Up Rapport with Your Prospects
If you are trying to build rapid rapport, remember that sometimes slowing down and getting to know your prospect and their objectives can be a shortcut to closing the sale.
If you are using virtual selling strategies, make sure you incorporate a variety of methods of communication that allow you to personalize your message while standing out.
The more you focus on helping your prospects, the more sales you'll make.
Shawn Casemore is a speaker, consultant, and author of the forthcoming Unstoppable Sales Machine (due out September 2020). To learn more, visit www.shawncasemore.com.
© Shawn Casemore 2022. All Rights Reserved.