Before anything can happen in business, someone must make a sale. In this five part series, Alex Pirouz outlines the dos and don’ts of successful selling.
It’s surprising that there are so many sales people these days selling products without first building rapport.
They are missing the first and most important step required when selling a product or service and this is costing organisations heavily, through loss of revenue and decreases in repeat business.
With so many different definitions circulating around the meaning of ‘rapport’, I thought it would be good if we first uncover what the word truly means.
Rapport is a relationship between two or more parties, especially one of mutual trust, or emotional affinity. Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication.
It is commonality of perspective: being “in sync” with, or being “on the same wavelength” as the person with whom you are talking.
To be the best you can be — as a sales person, business builder or entrepreneur — you need to discover the magic of rapport. The principles and techniques of rapport hold the key to effective communication.
The effectiveness of building rapport is based on the idea that we like to communicate with people who we perceive to be like us.
It works best when feelings are authentic – when you genuinely care about other people and have their interests at heart.
To get the outcome you want you’ll need to influence others to get it. This hinges on getting connected with what other people want. You must show that you understand and can empathise.
What is rapport’s role in sales?
Rapport in sales is everything!
Without feeling the respect and trust that comes from rapport, the rest of the conversation and relationship will have little impact. We live in a world where we are hit by thousands of ads each day; the last thing people want is to be sold to.
In this day and age, the average consumer does not have time to shop around. The only reason they won’t buy from a salesperson is because they had no rapport with the seller and, therefore, did not trust that person enough to hand over their money or their time.
Do you have rapport?
Answer each question below truthfully with a simple YES or NO. Try not to dwell on the questions, as your first and instinctive response is probably the most accurate.
- Are the majority of people you meet pleased to see you?
- Do your social groups say they miss you when you are not around?
- Do you find it easy to communicate with people you have just met?
- Do people turn to you for help?
- Do people find you approachable?
- Do people immediately understand what you say and mean?
- Do you usually get your own way?
- Do people willingly do what you ask of them?
- Do you have a wide and varied circle of friends?
- Do you have an even wider set of acquaintances?
- Would you describe yourself as persuasive?
- Do people readily accept your ideas?
- Are you able to remove the heat from an argument?
- At meetings, are you usually invited to contribute with your arguments?
- Do you find it easy to sustain eye contact with someone?
If you answered YES to more than half of these questions then you already have a good, instinctive sense of rapport.
If you answered NO to more than half of these questions, you may need to gain a greater awareness of the importance and relevance of rapport in building relationships with people.
Does rapport influence customers?
With so much competition out there, consumers evaluate the products and services they consider buying by looking at the three things that matter most to them, in the following level of importance:
- The sales person
- The Company
- The Product
Most of the time it does not matter if your product is not as good as the competition, as long as you can prove to the customer that your staff and company as a whole are much more professional to deal with.
This is why having the right staff with the right attitude is critical.
Gone are the days where you could hard sell someone to buy your products.
With the advancement of the internet consumers can now easily do plenty of research prior to the purchase of their desired goods or services. As the world has changed around us, we too need to adapt and change to keep up with consumers.
The new sales paradigm
Nowadays sales is about “Soft Selling” — an advanced skill that if used properly can have dramatic effects in sales, not just in the short term but also in the long term.
Soft selling is the process of having a conversation with a client, it is more about service than it is about selling. If you look at the ancient meaning of the word “Sale”, that is derived from the Norwegian word “Selyey”, you shall see that it meant “To Serve”.
|Old Paradigm||New Paradigm|
|More talking||More Listening|
|Hard Sell||Soft Sell|
|Always be closing||Opening is important|
|Assume benefits||Identify benefits|
|Make a sale||Build a relationship|
|Sell, sell, sell||Service|
By focusing on serving the client rather than selling the client, the paradigm entirely changes how a client will react and project towards you. Remember: In life how you project is how people will perceive you.
If you project to someone that you are only interested in talking to him or her because you want to make a sale, they will perceive you in that manner. No one likes to be sold to — they like to feel that they have been bought.
When you’re picking up the phone, or speaking to people face to face, if all you are thinking about is when you’re going to make the next sale, I can guarantee you very little success compared to focusing on serving the client and building rapport.
Always approach your customers with a mindset of ‘what’s in it for them’ and follow that up by finding out how you can be of service to them, so that they feel like they have bought rather than having been sold.
Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their revenue. (Visit www.ridc.com.au for more details)