"Did you see that game last night?" "How about all this rain we've been getting?" "That's a nice bowling trophy. I love bowling!" Ever use one of those questions? Thought so. Who are you kidding with that crap? In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer, "All things being equal, people buy from friends. All things NOT being equal, people buy from friends."
If people buy from people they like, one of your first goals should be to get your prospects to like you. For a salesperson, this can be tough. People have a hard time trusting salespeople with their time, money and business. Most people don't even want to talk to you. Welcome to reality: your prospects are busy and may feel that speaking with you is a complete waste of time. Many of your prospects may not even see a need for your product, or may be content with the version they already have. Point being, if you want to successfully establish rapport with your prospects, you'll have to do it quickly, before they get the chance to assume you're just like every other salesperson. Fortunately, there are 5 keys to help you get this friendship off to a quick start!
1. Relax - Have Fun!
It is your job to create an environment that is conducive to buying. Pointless, scripted, ice-breaking questions only create a cold selling environment. So relax and have a little bit of fun! As soon as you meet your prospective customer, you will be evaluated. That evaluation will be determined not just by how you feel, but also how you make your prospect feel. The only way to put your prospect at ease is to be at ease yourself. If you're uptight and contrived, your prospect will remain guarded and cold. If you are having fun, chances are your prospect will, too! After all, people buy from people, and your job as a professional communicator (a.k.a. salesperson) is to make your customer comfortable enough to grab a Coke from your refrigerator.
2. Lighten Up, Laugh It Up
Nothing is more powerful than humor when it comes to building rapport quickly with your customer. Laughter is the spark that ignites interest and cordiality between you and your prospect; it's hard to laugh with a person and not feel comfortable around them. Some salespeople take their job too seriously, and are so focused on the sale that they forget to think about the customer. So, lighten up! If you make them laugh, they may buy from you!
3. Get to the Point
You got them on the phone, you secured an appointment, and you got them in your store - now get to the point! State your objective and why they should care. Be careful not to use clichéd and insincere reasons like saving money, increasing productivity, and other transparent and ineffective reasons they have heard from so many salespeople before you. Prospects don't enjoy wasting time by playing games, and they certainly don't trust a salesperson that makes them. Being specific will clear the air and will lead to a conversation and relationship that you will both enjoy.
4. Show Humility, but Be Yourself
Salespeople seem to be born with a humility deficiency, which is probably why most prospects don't like them. Your prospects think that THEY are the most important person in the world, and they expect to be treated as such. To build rapport quickly, you must learn to put that customer and their needs first, regardless of the size of the sale. Curb the talk about how your company is the biggest and the best, and skip the part about how your product is superior to all other products in the market. The prospect needs to come to that realization independently, and the only way for that to happen is for you to remain humble. Being humble doesn't mean that you have to stifle your uniqueness. It simply means that you must let the prospect see and experience your uniqueness rather than having to hear you talk about it.
5. Be Sincere and Honest
Trust is the foundation for building a relationship with your prospect. You CANNOT fake this! If you are only in it for the commission, it will show! You must be sincere and honest throughout every step of the process to be successful. Being sincere means believing in yourself, your product, and your company wholeheartedly. It means believing your product or service will benefit the prospect. You must be passionate about wanting to help your prospect and do so in an honest way. Without sincerity and honesty, you have no chance at building the rapport that will lead to loyal business. When you believe in your heart that your product will have a profound impact on your prospect, it will accompany every word and impression delivered to that person. Your words will be more meaningful and your prospect will be more likely to respond to them. So the next time you are tasked with trying to make a sale, remember to relax, laugh, and enjoy yourself; you're really just making a new friend!