SALES | 10 MIN READ
FACT: People tend to buy from those that they know, like and/or trust.
Yes, I know. For transactional sales this is less of a fact. HOWEVER, for solution-based selling, any complex selling and repeat purchases, this is undeniably true.
For this happen, the sales professional must effectively bond and build rapport with the buyer. Make sense right? I am sure that you have heard this many times before. But you might be asking just how does this happen? Below are five steps you MUST use in your approach to bond and build rapport. That is, if you desire to truly separate yourself from your competition. While there is never a guarantee that you will ever win a sale, executing these five steps significantly boost your odds!
Listening! Listening! And Listening Again!
Asking the prospect questions is an inherent and necessary part of the sales conversation. However, far too many sales professionals don’t wait for the prospect to answer the question. Or even worse, don’t listen to what the prospect is or is not saying. As a sales professional who is dedicated to helping the buyer relieve any pain or solve any problems, you must obtain critical and sensitive information regarding the prospect’s needs, wants, desires, goals, challenges, etc…
You can only get this information by asking questions and then listening. Listening to the answers; listening to the tone of voice; listening to what is both said and not said. You can’t listen if you are interrupting the prospect as he or she is speaking. You aren’t listening if you are distracted or thinking ahead. You aren’t listening if you are thinking about rebutting what the prospect just said. No. To really listen, you must be alert and give thoughtful attention and consideration to what you are hearing NOW!
Observing Body Language
Over 75% of what we communicate to others is delivered via body language and voice/tonality. The rest is communicated via the actual words we use. Thus, while it is highly important to listen to and pay attention to what the buyer is saying (and not saying) it is just as important to observe the body language and the voice tones. Failure to do so, means that you will missed ¾ of what the buyer is communicating to you.
For example, is the prospect sitting back in his/her chair with arms crossed? Does the prospect fidget? Does the prospect look you in the eyes? Does the prospect have a smile or frown when speaking? Does the prospect speak with a crackling voice? Observing these and other non-verbal cues will help you adjust what you are saying, adjust how you stand, adjust your tone of voice. Such modifications are done with the intention of creating an environment where the prospect feels comfortable in speaking with you and thus begin to develop those positive feelings necessary for liking and ultimately trusting you.
Asking for Clarification
Regardless of how hard we try to understand, there are times when the prospect says something that does not make sense or where you are not sure if your understanding is the same as what the prospect intended. Instead of glossing over it and moving onward, (huge mistake that will later bite you in the butt) the salesperson should take a pause and ask for clarification. This does two things. First, it ensures that you, the sales person, understands what the prospect has said, thereby reducing misunderstandings. Second, it reassures the prospect that you are genuinely interested in him and in truly understanding her problem or situation.
Examples of asking for clarity:
“I’m not quite sure I understand what you are saying.”
“When you said …….. what did you mean?”
“Could you repeat …?”
If you engaged in a conversation with a prospect that tends to get complex or that deals with difficult situations, it is YOUR responsibility as the sale professional to make sure that you completely understand the situation. Doing so, certifies that you and the prospect are operating on the same page. Doing so ensures that you make the informed decision of whether or not you can help. Doing so makes certain that you offer the “right fit” solution.
Because of the importance of truly understanding where the prospect is coming from, you often need to ask for clarification on what was just communicated. But this is just the first part. The second part is to get the prospect to agree that your understanding of what he/she just stated is correct. This part is commonly referred to as reflecting.
Reflecting is the process of paraphrasing or mirroring both the words and the feelings of your prospect. This gives the buyer the ability to agree or disagree that what you understand is a true representation of what was MEANT to be said.
There are two main ways for reflecting. The first is mirroring. Which is repeating back exactly (almost exactly) what the prospect said. The second method is paraphrasing. This is where you are restating in your own words what the buyer has said. Both methods are valid. I should point out however, that in the world of psychology, paraphrasing is often the preferred reflecting method. While mirroring is an excellent technique for showing the prospect that you are listening, paraphrasing goes one step further. In addition to showing that you listening, the later shows that you are actively trying to understand what is being communicated. In other words, paraphrasing demonstrates unequivocally that you are actively trying to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes.
That stated. Whichever method you use, know this. Reflecting reassures the prospect that you “feel” where he is coming from. It also encourages the buyer to continue sharing. After all, who does not like to share information and feelings with someone who “gets us”.
Become a Stroke Machine
Last but not least, there is a technique practiced by many sales professionals that follow the Sandler System of Selling. This technique is called stroking. I know, before you totally shut me off. Let me explain.
A stroke is a unit or statement of recognition. If someone shared with you that he just got a promotion or a raise, don’t you typically say congratulations? That is a stroke. When someone shares with you that she had a really bad day, don’t you typically say “ sorry to hear about that”. Tell me what happend? This also is stroke. If someone you care about shares with you how he doesn’t feel very appreciated at work, don’t you normally respond with positive and reassuring comments to help the person feel better? Again, this also is a stroke.
In its basic form, stroking is nothing more than meeting the need or hunger for recognition, appreciation or acknowledgment. Stroking is not flattery. It is a way of offering sincere, positive feedback to your prospects. Stroking is not superficial. It is a nurturing statement that builds the self-esteem of the prospect.
So, as you are asking questions, you are also:
- listening for what is said and not said;
- paying attention to non-verbal cues;
- asking for clarity,
- reflecting your understanding;
- stroking the prospect,;
This in turn assures that you are building a level of likability and trust that will put you so far ahead of any other sales professional that the buyer may be in conversation with. Moreover, you will be giving solid evidence for why the prospect should want to do business with you even before they know what solutions you have to offer.
Want to learn more on bonding and building rapport? Want to participate in a live webinar session with others and learn how to apply these skill in real world settings without having to drive to a faculty? Click below to register for the next LIVE Webinar.
March 24, 2018 @ 10 AM PST