Building rapport with customers is a critical component of successful selling. As technology changes, most buyers report that they prefer to search for solutions online rather than having a conversation with a sales representative.
That’s why it’s critical that your salespeople are skilled at building rapport quickly and providing value when they do have the opportunity to talk to a buyer.
Over the course of the sales process, effective rapport building establishes your sales team as trusted partners. This leads to longer and more profitable relationships.
There are three critical components to building rapport with prospects and customers. Pay special attention to #3, which is the secret sauce for many high performing salespeople.
#1 Establish a Human Connection
When we first meet someone, we consciously and subconsciously look for cues as to the other’s trustworthiness. For buyers interacting with salespeople, this evaluation is especially conscious as they tend to put up a defense to protect their time and best interests.
Teach your salespeople to smile (whether in person or on the phone), show courtesy, and authentically relate to their prospects.
It’s helpful to remind your salespeople to come from a place of other-focus, rather than self-focus. Train them with a consultative sales process so they naturally keep their focus on the buyer and ways they can provide value to them.
#2 Listen Actively and Respond
Remind salespeople they should do less talking and more listening.
Active listening shows the prospect that the salesperson cares about their story, their needs, their challenges, and their goals. It will automatically position your salesperson as a consultant and advisor, rather than a product pusher. Eventually, this will lead to a strong sense of trust and influence.
Active listening will also guide the recommendation your salesperson makes, allowing it to be tailored perfectly to their needs.
#3 Adapt to the Buyer’s Communication Style
Not everyone communicates (or prefers to communicate) in the same way.
Sellers who learn to quickly identify a prospect’s preferred communication style and adapt to it gain a substantial benefit. Prospects will experience them as more trustworthy, easier to relate to, and more enjoyable to interact with.
To learn this crucial technique, your sales team needs to understand the 4 common buyer behavior styles according to the DISC personality test, and how to use them to adapt their own communication.
Here is a quick overview:
Dominance or Doer types are direct. They typically have fast-paced speech, a strong personality and a desire to get the point. They also tend to think in terms of the bottom line, so when speaking with them it’s important to skip storytelling and quickly articulate benefits.
Build rapport with “D” types by:
- Listening closely so they feel heard
- Asking specific, targeted questions - do not waste their time
- Keeping a fast pace to match theirs
- Giving direct answers without a lot of “fluff”
Influence or Talker types are friendly and talkative. They typically enjoy interacting with people, so sharing testimonials and product benefits in an upbeat, positive way is a good place to start. With “I”s, it’s also best to stay focused on the big picture and not get too into the details.
Build rapport with “I” types through:
- Friendly and animated conversation
- Asking for their ideas and opinions
- NOT dwelling on the details
- Giving personal stories illustrating how others have benefited from your solution
Steadiness or Pacer types have a deliberate and methodical decision-making style. Patient and easy going, they are also risk-averse and may resist change or anything they perceive as a risk.
You can identify these individuals by their reserved, indirect, yet people-oriented approach. Sincerity and allowing a little extra time for consideration and trust-building may be required to build rapport effectively.
Build rapport with “S” types by:
- Not pressuring them to make a decision quickly
- Listening patiently and taking time to explain
- Giving sincere, direct answers
- Showing interest in a long-term relationship
- Demonstrating care for them and their team
Compliance or Controller types tend to focus on the details. Methodical in approach, they are primarily concerned with doing things the “right” or “correct” way. This can make their buying behavior style skeptical and concerned with analytics and the effects of change. It’s important to be prepared to back up your claims in a no-nonsense way for “C” types.
Build rapport with “C” types by:
- Presenting data to back up claims about your solution
- Not asking too many personal questions
- Slowing down, giving precise information
- Maintaining a diplomatic and courteous tone
- Being conservative in assertions
The Bottom Line
Rapport building is far more than identifying a shared commonality to support polite conversation. Effective rapport building is about establishing authentic connections, listening thoroughly, and an adapting communication to match the buyer’s style.
Our Selling to Different Personality Types training program teaches sales professionals the four DISC personality types—Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance—and how they play out in a business setting.
Through the activity-filled program, participants will be put in the buyer’s seat and learn how to communicate most effectively through phone, email, and face-to-face situations.
View the video below to learn about the benefits of the Selling to Different Personality Types training program.
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