I like to break the sales process down into its simplest components:
1. Engage with the right people.
2 Make them comfortable with you.
3. Find out what they want.
4. Show them how what you have gives them what they want.
5. Get an agreement on the next step.
6. Follow up and leverage satisfaction.
One of the essential early steps is to “make them comfortable with you.” In other words, to create some rapport with the other person. According to the dictionary, rapport is “an emotional bond or friendly relationship between people based on mutual liking, trust and a sense that they understand and share each other’s concerns.”
We can understand why this is so important. If your contact doesn’t feel comfortable with you, then he/she won’t be nearly as open to sharing information. And, if we can’t get information, we can’t “find out what they want.” We all have stories to tell about an incident in which we were the buyer and a sales person was rude or self-interested to the point where we decided to terminate the relationship and go somewhere else.
The same thing is true of our customers. If they don’t feel comfortable with us, if they don’t feel that we are interested in them, they form negative impressions of us and consider some other source.
I’m surprised by the quantity of sales people who get this exactly wrong. They’ll talk about a customer and say something like, “he’s a really nice guy,” as if that mattered.
Their first reaction of the immature sales person is to judge the customer by his/her own feelings about the customer. That’s exactly backwards. It doesn’t matter how we feel about the customer. What does matter is how the customer feels about us.
And, it is the responsibility of the professional sales person to interact with the customer in such a way as to make this particular human being comfortable with us.
Not surprisingly, the best sales people are masters of creating rapport with all kinds of people, understanding that it is the essential first step in a successful interaction with a customer. The average sales person never takes the time to study this issue, instead relying on his or her hit-or-miss people skills developed outside of the job. The average sales person views the customer through his/her reaction to the customer, whereas the best sales people understand that it is their job to create rapport with the customer.
Like so many specific aspects of the sales person’s job, there is no magic, no secret to this task. Creating rapport is a widely researched issue, and best practices for doing this well are widely described.
To understand some highly effective ways of accomplishing this:
· read chapters six and seven of Taking Your Sales Performance Up-a-Notch
· read chapters six and seven of How to Excel at Distributor Sales.
· read chapters four and five of How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.