I was inspired to write this after I received a message on LinkedIn that had zero rapport. I do not know the person who messaged me. We have never communicated before. We do not have mutual colleagues. Yet, out of the blue I received a message with a direct sell question.
I am not sure if the person understands I am in the business of training sales professionals. They definitely are not aware that I am passionate about people not taking for granted the technique and skill that it takes to be a successful in sales. I believe we all have a responsibility to offer a sales message in a way that is classy, professional and delivering a quality of service that represents the profession well.
Based on this poor experience I decided I would share with you a few things you can do to build rapport before asking for the sale.
- Have an attention-grabbing introduction that is authentic to you and your style.
If you are meeting people via the internet you may have to break through a lot of chaos to grab someone’s attention. In person eye contact and a smile may be enough. Regardless of how you are making the initial connection, everyone is busy. You need to demonstrate within 10 seconds why they should spend more than 10 seconds on you. Personally, I am a big believer in authentic caring and friendliness. I truly want to meet people and make their day better. In person I can do this through emitting a positive energy and a big smile, over email or via social media message, I usually start with a thank you and some form of appreciation for their time (because if they choose to give me more then 10 seconds, I am grateful for that!)
- Take time to get to know someone.
I understand we are in a fast-paced world; however, you cannot possibly be a solution to a problem that someone has without taking the time to understand the problem specific to them. If you just guess what the problem is and throw out random solutions, it is a waste of your time and theirs. Because of this I suggest you practice the long-lost art of curiosity and try and understand more about the person you are messaging or speaking with; to understand how you can bring value to them. Ask questions regarding the problem you are hoping to solve for them. Don’t make assumptions. In the process of this though, learn about them. Try and find something in common with them, and most importantly make them laugh. If you can make someone smile or laugh, then you have a connection that sets you a part from a lot of other interactions they will likely have that day.
Put yourself in a position to truly listen. Focus on what someone is saying to you completely. If you are corresponding via message or email, make sure you read it thoroughly and respond to what they say; not with a staged reply. In person; turn off your phone, shut down your email, put your complete and total attention to the person you are speaking to. On the phone, practice the same techniques. When you listen, you put yourself in a position to be able to ask stronger questions and better understand how you can bring value to your potential client.
- Even if 99% of the time you already know the answer- NEVER ASSUME!
If you sell a product that is a solution for most people, that doesn’t give you the right to assume someone wants to buy it, let alone buy it from you. You still need to earn the trust and be a partner with the person you want to serve. Instead of just assuming everyone needs what you are selling, ask questions. Adults are experiential learners. They like to be involved in the process, to be treated as smart and intelligent people who know themselves better then anyone. If you want someone to come on board with what you are selling, help to guide them there through questions that lead to your product or service as a possible solution. Adults are smart and need to be treated that way. Assuming anything about anyone, will not help you know them better.
Melissa Maloney, Best Selling Author, Founder of Happy Leader Enterprises and Creator of the Happy Leader Method. www.melissamaloney.ca