Make sure your salespeople understand: their goal, when first engaging with a prospect, is to set the sales process in motion by turning a potential resister into an avid listener.
They don’t need to try and be liked, and they don’t need to go too far into their sales process too fast.
There are three specific points they should aim to accomplish:
- Build Trust
Trust is your prospect’s level of belief that your organization’s solutions are credible and that your company (and your rep) will deliver on every promise and commitment.
- Develop Rapport
Matching the pace, tone, behavior, and actions of the prospect will make them feel relaxed and hopefully comfortable enough to open up and candidly answer your rep’s questions.
- Measure the Prospect’s Willingness To Listen
A willingness to listen is one of the characteristics of a qualified prospect. Salespeople who try to sell to prospects that are unwilling to listen are fighting a losing battle.
How To Get Liked
Reps must always remember, it’s not their job to get prospects to like them. Their job is to sell, and they’ll do that by generating trust and providing value.
There is a big difference between being liked and being trusted. After all, you can probably think of at least one person who you like, but don’t necessarily trust.
If your sales rep finds a solution to a tough challenge a prospect is facing, that prospect will like them. The key to getting prospects to open up is, once again, building trust and developing rapport.
Trust is earned when the rep demonstrates they’re willing to put the prospect’s needs before their own.
The rep needs to have a sincere interest in the prospect and a genuine desire to help solve their problem. This can be demonstrated by doing something valuable like giving the prospect a helpful resource, making a recommendation based on prior expertise and experiences, or engaging in a strategic conversation about the long-term effects of the decision your prospect is trying to make.
Confidence and professionalism are other great ways to build trust. Would you trust a salesperson who fumbles over their words, shows up late, is dressed sloppily, or asks basic surface-level questions that your website could have answered? Probably not.
Teach your reps to use a solid statement of intention to build trust.
A Statement of Intention
Unless a rep is dealing with a strong dominance type who insists on getting straight to business, any conversation will likely begin with a little bit of small talk.
A statement of intention is a quick statement about why you’re there and what you want to accomplish. For a sales rep, it could sound like this:
My goal today is to see if my company’s offering may be of value to you. To do that, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
Most prospects won’t say no to that. But before diving into a line of questions, teach reps to offer a “value guarantee” to prospects. That can sound something like this:
Great. Before we get into that, I want you to know that if we conclude that my solutions, expertise, and business insights don’t provide any value to you — I’ll personally recommend the name of one of my competitors to you in the hopes they can better serve you. How does that sound?
Assuring a prospect that you’ll not only walk away if you can’t be of value to them but will also give them the name of a competitor, demonstrates that your only interest is finding and doing what is in the prospect’s best interest.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines rapport as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
It’s not always an easy task to understand another person’s feelings and communicate well with them. That takes a high degree of emotional intelligence—or a strong understanding of behavior styles.
Matching a prospect’s pace of speech, tone, behavior, and actions will make them feel comfortable, and they’ll be willing to open up.
Some people are full of energy while others are slower-paced and more laid back. Some are task-oriented and want to get things done, while others are relationship-focused and want to hear about your kids.
When a salesperson is first meeting a prospect, they need to approach the situation in neutral.
High-energy reps need to slow down their pace. Reps who love chit-chat need to keep small talk to a minimum. It won’t take long to figure out the prospect’s primary behavior style, so they can adjust their own behavior and develop rapport.
Gauging a Prospect’s Willingness To Listen
To figure out if a prospect is willing to listen, tell your rep to simply pay attention to the prospect’s body language and the types of questions they ask.
We all intuitively know the signs of open body language. It’s a good sign when a prospect is leaning in, nodding, and taking notes.
Prospects who are willing to listen to your rep may also ask for their advice. Tell reps to pay attention to prospects who ask questions looking for their insight, opinions, and personal recommendations. When a prospect takes the conversation past product specs and features, they’re willing to listen.
If it becomes clear that a prospect isn’t receptive—maybe their arms are crossed, they’re not making eye contact, keep looking at their phone, or don’t engage in conversation—chances are something is wrong. The rep can still try and engage the prospect, but they should not move further down their sales process until they know trust, rapport, and a willingness to listen have been developed.
Trust Your Process
Today’s buyers are more informed than ever. A rep’s product knowledge may save them some time poking around on your company’s website, but salespeople who don’t provide value beyond that, risk being seen as an interruption, and ultimately, a waste of the prospect’s time.
Salespeople who demonstrate that their experience and opinions are valuable and have the knowledge to solve their prospects’ problems make great first impressions.
The IMPACT Selling System is a proven sales methodology that teaches reps how to quickly build trust and develop rapport with prospects. It will give your team an easy-to-follow approach that will build their confidence and help them to walk tall no matter what challenges they face in today’s marketplace.
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