Have you ever had a sale that didn’t close, and you weren’t sure why? Chances are you lost the sale because you didn’t establish sufficient trust and rapport with your prospect. Once you have developed that trust and rapport, you’ve actually got the most difficult part behind you, and you’re probably going to make a sale!
You see, it really doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are about your product or how professional your PowerPoint slides look, because unless you’ve earned your prospect’s trust and confidence, you’re not going to make the sale, period. The bottom line here is that people want to do business with salespeople who they like and trust.
Any architect will be quick to tell you that the most important part of a building is its foundation. A solid foundation needs to be built before the walls and roof can go up. Likewise, a salesperson must first take the time to build a solid foundation of trust and rapport before beginning the process of selling his or her products and services.
The delicate process of building trust and establishing rapport begins by making a positive first impression. There is no substitute for making a positive first impression. Yes, people also judge a book by its cover too. The cold hard truth is that if your prospect doesn’t buy you, he or she will never seriously consider buying your products or services.
Top producers clearly understand that closing a sale has much more to do with building trust and establishing rapport than it does with issues of lowest price or highest quality. If you’re working hard, but aren’t consistently closing sales or getting enough referrals, chances are it’s because you don’t know how to establish trust or build rapport. Here are 14, time-proven suggestions to help you create a positive first impression and get the selling process started off on the right foot:
1. Be respectful of your prospect’s time by beginning and ending your appointment on time.
2. Look sharp and dress for success. While it may seem unfair, people will judge you on your appearance.
3. Be personable and friendly, but not overly familiar.
4. Have a positive mental attitude.
5. Warm-up your prospect with “small talk” before you start your sales presentation. Look for mutual areas of interest to create “common ground.”
6. Be mindful of your own body language and remember to keep your gestures positive by unfolding your arms, uncrossing your legs, nodding your head in agreement, and smiling frequently.
7. Maintain direct eye contact.
8. During your needs analysis interview, get your prospect talking by asking him or her open-ended clarifying questions that begin with who, where, what, when, and how. Open-ended questions will require your prospect to give you in-depth responses. It’s a good idea to occasionally repeat your prospect’s key words and phrases back to him or her verbatim. By restating your prospect’s key words and phrases, you not only help clarify understanding, but you also build rapport.
9. Listen as much as you talk. Listen to the details like a detective and never interrupt, criticize, or argue with your prospect. While it’s important to educate your prospect about the value of your product or service, as a general rule, you should listen more than you talk.
10. Keep your sales presentation and marketing materials looking professional and up-to-date.
11. Be honest and if you don’t know the answer to your prospect’s question, don’t try to BS your way around it. It is a much better approach to admit that you don’t know the answer, but will find out and get back to them.
12. Create trust and rapport quickly by “matching and mirroring” your prospect’s body language, voice tone, and rate of speech. Matching and mirroring is unconscious body language mimicry by which one person tells another they like and trust them. You want to be careful not to be too obvious when you are matching and mirroring your prospect’s body language gestures, because it will be perceived as manipulative if you don’t do it naturally. An effective way to begin matching and mirroring is to subtly nod your head in agreement whenever your prospect nods his or her head.
13. Never swear or use bad language.
14. Don’t badmouth your competition’s products and services.
In today’s highly-competitive marketplace, your prospects have many buying options and are looking for a salesperson who they can trust to work in their best interest. Salespeople who fail to put an emphasis on establishing trust and building rapport actually do a disservice to their customers, and in effect, leave the backdoor open to their competition.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships together.”
– Stephen R. Covey