If you’re working hard, but aren’t consistently generating enough sales and getting referrals, chances are it’s a matter of trust! Suppose you could incorporate a few simple yet highly effective ideas into your selling process and substantially increase your bottom line? One of the most critically important and yet frequently overlooked aspects of selling is creating a solid foundation of trust and rapport.
I believe that once you have established trust and rapport with your prospect, you actually have the hard part behind you and can anticipate making the sale. It really doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are about your product line or how many closing techniques you have mastered, unless you earn your prospect’s trust and confidence, you are not going to make the sale–period! While there is no approach that will work 100% of the time with every prospect, fortunately there are fundamentals you can use that will help you build trust and rapport quickly.
Gain the Competitive Edge
There is absolutely no substitute for a positive first impression. Research clearly indicates that we decide in the first few minutes whether we like someone or not. Yes, we also judge a book by its cover too. In most cases, your prospect’s first impression of you will be made over the phone or from a voice message you leave. Therefore, it is always a good idea to focus your intention and organize your thoughts by utilizing a phone script instead of shooting from the hip. Here are some suggestions to help you get off on the right foot. Show up on time and be well prepared. Maintain a well-groomed appearance and dress appropriately for your market. And finally, be upbeat and personable without becoming overly familiar.
Promote Your Credibility
Establish your credentials as an expert in your industry during your initial appointment. When you offer your business card and/or company brochure, highlight two or three reasons why you elected to work for your company. Keep your marketing materials looking professional and up-to-date. If you conduct appointments in your office, display your awards and certificates of accomplishment.
Use Active Listening Skills
The quickest way to destroy trust and rapport is to dominate the conversation. Successful salespeople take notes, listen attentively, and avoid the temptation to interrupt, criticize, or argue. To develop and encourage conversation, use open-ended questions to probe the meaning behind your prospect’s statements. Occasionally repeat your prospect’s words verbatim. By restating their key words or phrases, you not only clarify communication but also build rapport.
Adjust to Your Prospect’s Temperament Style
Research indicates people are born into one of four primary temperament styles; aggressive, expressive, passive, or analytical. Each of these four primary temperament styles requires a unique approach and selling strategy. For example, if you are selling to the impatient, aggressive style, they prefer a short warm up and expect a quick, bottom line presentation. While at the other extreme, the cautious, analytical style is slow to warm up and is interested in every detail. Once you learn how to identify each of the four primary styles, you will be able to close more sales in less time by adjusting to your prospect’s buying style.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Our body language reveals our deepest feelings and hidden thoughts to total strangers. Research indicates that in a face-to-face conversation, over 70% of our communication is perceived nonverbally. In addition, nonverbal communication has a much greater impact and higher reliability than the spoken word. Therefore, if your prospect’s words are incongruent with their body language gestures, you would be wise to rely on their body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings. Be mindful of your own body language gestures and remember to keep them positive by unfolding your arms, uncrossing your legs, nodding your head in agreement, and smiling frequently.
Create trust and rapport quickly by “matching and mirroring” your prospect’s body language gestures. Matching and mirroring is an unconscious body language mimicry by which one person tells another they are in agreement. The next time you are at a social event, notice how many people are subconsciously matching one another. Likewise, when people disagree, they subconsciously mismatch their body language gestures. The psychological principle behind matching and mirroring is the fact that people want to do business with salespeople that they believe are similar to them. An effective way to begin matching your prospect is to subtly nod your head in agreement whenever your prospect nods their head, or cross your legs when they cross their legs, etc. By understanding the meaning behind your prospect’s body language gestures, you will minimize perceived sales pressure and know when it’s appropriate to close the sale.
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, your prospects have many options and are looking for a salesperson they know they can trust to work in their best interest. Salespeople who fail to put an emphasis on developing trust and rapport actually do a disservice to their customers and, in effect, leave the backdoor open to their competition. In addition to generating new sales, developing strong relationships will keep competitors at arm’s length and your business on the books!