Monday, May 19, 2008

Sales and the Art of Rapport - Somewhat random thoughts on being nice and how to get the deal

Rapport during the sales process is something that isn't talked about enough. It is a connection, a commonality, a trust. Rapport is necessary to make a sale, but it becomes important way before a person can approach another and ask then to buy something. Rapport building happens during networking--before the sales process, before quite possibly, your prospect even knows what you do.

A while ago I had the opportunity to attend a talk on sales training. The presenter stressed the importance of first building a rapport and then he dove right into what I would consider a pretty standard "sales" ideal where the salesperson is suppose to not give away anything, and "lead" the prospect to and through the sale...to not accept the "nos" or the hesitations.

I shutter at this kind of training because I find it so profoundly irritating when someone tries it on me. Yes, sales should start with building rapport, but part of sales is knowing that you have the right prospect. There is no use in selling something to someone who is unwilling or not ready to buy. If you do succeed in strong-arming them to sign, then you will ultimately end up with an unhappy client. If you don't, then you have wasted your time and theirs.

The best sales are made when the client comes to you--next best is a referral. Both of whom you need to build rapport with... but also you need to maintain that good relationship. You need to maintain that good relationship even after you may have disqualified them as a good client prospect.

Sales is not formulaic. While you may be able to come up with a clever step-by-step chart or catchy acronym, each sale will be different. It has to be...I am different, aren't you?

So what do you need to do to be a good salesperson? Go out, meet people. Join groups and organizations, and participate. Learn what you can about your community and the people in it. Network, be friendly if not friends. Don't fake it. Tell people what you do and ask good questions. Don't sell--explain. If you are able to decipher if they would be a good candidate for your product or service, ask them. If they aren't interested...move on. But don't lose the contact. You never know if they may be a good referral source or customer later on. Even more, you don't know when you may have the opportunity to be a good will ambassador and provide them with a

And lastly--don't be afraid to give something away for free. Many a business was built on samples. Weight loss programs make no secret of the fact that in order to lose weight you will have to eat better and exercise. We all know that. But then they provide the plan and the food... at a cost of course. Have you ever gone to the grocery store and taken a sample of some fresh fruit, cheese spread, or cake? And did you buy it? A lot of the time you do. And the stores do this because it works! So either give away the answer to a person's problem, but make it easier or less expensive for the prospective client to get it from you, or give away a sample...and make it so appealing, the prospect just can't say no to the big piece!

Meghan Wier
Author Writer Web Consultant

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