Never — we mean NEVER — start a sales pitch without establishing a rapport.
In order for any business to succeed, it must master the art of driving revenue, AKA sales! We consider sales training to be an essential part of the management training program at NCG, Inc because it prepares our future branch managers for the necessary business skill of making money. Here you will find some great tips that will help you become the rockstar at sales that you’ll need to be if you’re seeking a successful business career.
Building rapport and establishing a mini relationship before discussing your product is an absolutely essential element of the sales process. If you’re struggling with this psychologically or you’re unable to put this into action, NCG, Inc is here to help!
“In theory, I’d like to build rapport, but the customer would rather that I cut to the chase…”
If you’ve had this thought before, in many ways you’d actually be right. Anyone you are pitching likely wants you to be efficient with your words. He’s busy, he doesn’t care what you have to say (YET), and he wants you to get a move on. HOWEVER, if you actually just cut to the chase without establishing a connection, you’re almost guaranteed to get a “no.” So yes, skipping the rapport might be faster, but your customer will miss out on a great offer and you will miss out on a sale.
It’s important to remember that establishing trust is 99% of the battle when it comes to sales. To give yourself even a modicum of opportunity to close a sale, you need to start your interaction off on the right foot. If you come across as pleasant, likable, and genuine, your customer will form a positive impression of you — which in turn, sets the stage for an extended conversation, and eventually a sale.
“That sounds easier said than done… How do I actually come across as pleasant, likable, and genuine?”
The easy answer here is to simply be yourself. Understandably, some people get nervous when they’re getting ready to make a pitch, so they feel unnatural and uneasy no matter what. Here are some specific things that you can do to make a positive impression:
- Smile and laugh! Don’t be so serious.
- Keep your volume and tone of voice friendly, but never overly so. Pretend you’re talking to someone you’ve known forever. A customer will spot immediately if you sound overly cheerful.
- Make eye contact. Looking down or to the side will create distrust.
- Practice relaxed body language. Keep it professional but don’t be too stiff either.
- Pro tip: Share something personal.
“Why should I share something personal… and what should I share?”
The reason to share something about yourself is because it builds trust. Unless you’ve known your customer for many months, they probably know very little about you. Especially if you’re making a cold or warm pitch, it’s important to recognize that your customer views you as a “salesperson” and not a “person.” That is, until you change that! It’s easy to turn yourself into a “person” by telling the customer about yourself. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- You walk into a customer’s office and see a picture of his family on vacation. You say, “That makes me so excited for the vacation I’m going on with my family next month during my little sister’s school break!”. Now your customer knows that you are family-oriented and that you have a younger sister.
- Fourth of July weekend is coming up. You say, “Are you getting excited for the 4th? My fiancé and I are going to see the fireworks in New Haven this weekend!” Now your customer knows that you live in the same community and that you are getting married.
- You’re working with a customer at an accounting firm. You say, “I’m sad to tell you that Accounting was actually my worst subject when I was at Yale!” Now your customer knows that you went to a great school and that you’ve studied (or attempted to study) what they do for a living.
So why do these work? First, of all, it paints a small picture of you and reminds the customer that you’re a regular person with a life like she has. But second of all, each of these examples are just enough information to lead to questions from your customer, which will turn into a nice conversation! “Where are you going on vacation?”; “When are you getting married?”; “What did you study at Yale?”; and so on. You get the idea!
The more natural and normal of a conversation that you can have with your customer, the faster you are able to build trust. Instead of asking awkward questions and getting short answers and eventually a “no,” try these tips and challenge yourself to build a real and genuine relationship before getting to business. Happy selling!
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