The Three Principles of Rapport

Building Rapport

Building Rapport

In the world of selling, there are three principles of rapport. Working with them will increase the probability that your potential clients will buy from you:

  1. Buyers like salespeople who are like them.

Have you noticed how friends adopt each other’s behaviors? Friends tend to talk to each other at a similar speed and with a similar volume. Friends tend to adopt similar behaviors such as in their postures, facial expressions, and gestures. This same exchange of behaviors occurs when you establish rapport with buyers. You and your buyers will gradually begin to adopt similar behaviors. As your behavior becomes more like theirs, you make it easier for your buyers to like you.

If you doubt this, think about the last time you were with someone who used drastically different postures and gestures than you. At first, you would have been uncomfortable—trying to recognize what those postures and gestures meant. In effect, you were trying to translate that person’s body language into something to which you could relate. Once the understanding was there, you probably felt more comfortable. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not the other person was likable. It was more along the lines of whether or not you understood him. [Read more…]

The Initial Greeting

The initial greeting is so important. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Let me share some ideas for getting off on the right foot in a retail situation.

A couple walks into your store or display area. You don’t know their names. At this stage, it’s just plain pushy to ask. All chance of building the necessary relaxed feeling is often lost in the first moments by overanxious salespeople who stick out their hands, introduce themselves, and ask people for their names. The prospects are startled and embarrassed because they weren’t ready for that kind of attention.

Here’s how to avoid the possibility of this happening. A couple walks in. You don’t know their names and have no reason to believe they want to make your acquaintance. When you walk toward them, stop several feet away to avoid invading their space, and say something along these lines:

  • “Hello. Thanks for coming in. Please feel free to look around all you want. If I can give you any information, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
  • “Welcome to [name of your store]. What brought you in today?
  • “Good morning. Thank you for coming by. My name is Tom. If you have any questions or need assistance, I’ll be over here. Just ask.”

When you’ve spoken your version of one of those greetings, turn and prepare to walk away.

That’s right, walk away.

Don’t whirl and run, of course. Turn away slowly. If they stop you by asking a question, you’re there and ready to help. If they acknowledge you, then turn to move elsewhere in the store, you simply step aside but stay in the general vicinity so they’ll know where to find you. If you’re where you should be, they can easily ask you a question if they care to.

It’s curious how many people will head for the door when you crowd them, but will ask for the product or service they came in for when you speak courteously to them and then start turning away. By showing that you respect their privacy, you assure them that they’ll be safe in asking for what they want.

Let them settle. If you leave them alone after greeting them, and if they have any genuine interest in your product or service and the ability to buy it, they’ll home in on that item. All you have to do is let them settle.

If your product line is appliances and your store handles several types, watch without staring. Using peripheral vision, you can be looking at something in the dishwasher section when they light on a particular TV set. If they stay there for a full minute, they’ve settled. Now it’s time for you to stroll over and casually move into the next step.

Ask an opening involvement question. An involvement question, of course, is any positive question they’d ask themselves about the benefits of the product after they own it. You don’t know their names yet, of course, and it’s too soon to ask.

Walk up and say, “Would the television replace your old one, or is it going to be an additional set for your home?”

With slight changes in wording, you can adapt this opening involvement question to almost any product or service. Once you get them talking about why they want what you’re selling, you know how to go into your qualification and minor closing sequences, how to eventually lead them into happy involvement with a purchase.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International. Inc.
Excerpted from How to Master the Art of Selling.

How I Built Rapport with Members of Hell’s Angels

I think most salespeople will agree that building rapport is one of the most critical skills a sales pro can develop. Since we work with many different types of clients, we have to think on the run, including the time I built rapport with members of Hell’s Angels.

Don’t you wish we could know about the people we could be serving before we meet them? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just know a couple of things about them in advance so we could prepare our opening lines? Well, that’s rarely the case in sales. Especially in the field of real estate, you never know what you’ll find behind the doors of even the most beautiful homes.

One of the most dramatic examples of needing to make a good first impression happened after about my third year in real estate. At this point, I had finally turned my dismal career around and was doing pretty well. I was wearing the latest style of men’s clothing and driving a brand new Cadillac. The Cadillac was THE real estate car of the 60’s. It was long, sleek and just beautiful. [Read more…]

Vital Telephone Skills for Sales Pros

Telephone SkillsYou might think that everyone knows how to use a telephone and that the topic of Vital Telephone Skills for Sales Pros is antiquated. For some, possibly you, that may be true. However, based on the calls received by me, my wife, and members of my staff, there is a great lack of skill in the general selling populace. Because of our experiences, even recently, we all agreed this topic should be addressed.

The pathway to riches is that opening in the front of your head called a mouth and one of your biggest assets is the telephone. Most appointments are set by telephone and there are certain steps to follow to do it well. [Read more…]

Questions for Building Common Ground

closed saleSince I teach the importance of establishing common ground with potential clients, I’m often asked for suggestions of topics. Because of that, I’ve generated a simple list of questions for building common ground to share. Use whatever is appropriate for your type of sales situation or simply use these questions as models for developing your own.

Here are a few subjects to give you an idea of how building common ground can begin.

Job Related:

  • Tell me a bit about your job.
  • Tell me what you do for a living.
  • What’s your occupation?
  • What do you like most/least about your work?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • What’s the most interesting part of your job?
  • What gives you the greatest amount of satisfaction at work?

Child Related:

  • Do you have any kids?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What are their names?
  • How old are they?
  • I bet you’re proud of him/her/them.
  • What interests are they developing?
  • What do they do for fun?

Family Related:

  • Are you married? 
  • Been married long?
  • Where do you folks live?
  • Did you go on a honeymoon? Oh, where?
  • Where does he/she work?
  • What do you folks do for recreation?
  • Do you share any hobbies?

Location Related:

  • Are you from around here?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you like most about living in your town?
  • Have you traveled much?
  • What is the most fun thing to do in your area?
  • What three things would you recommend a tourist to see first?

All of this information isn’t gathered just to be discarded. You’ll use much of it later in the sales process. I could go on and on with this, but you get the idea. You want to be friendly and to encourage the other person to be friendly. Don’t treat these questions as a checklist you have to march through like Sherman to the sea during the Civil War. Your goal is conversation not conquest.

Also, avoid the trap of droning on about any given subject. Getting overly involved in the topic of conversation will cut out valuable time you’ll need for getting down to business and making your presentation. Just find the commonality. Establish it. Make sure your customer is comfortable with it. And at the appropriate moment, move on.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. and Pat Leiby

Auto Sales – It’s not what you say

How you say itIt’s not what you say in auto sales, but how you say it that counts, right? I’m certain you’ve heard that cliché hundreds of times.

In business, what you say is just as important as how you say it. In selling vehicles, you must learn to paint mental pictures in the minds of your potential clients. Those pictures show them being, happier, having more fun, less stressed, being sexier, safer, better looking, economically- or environmentally-minded, or well-to-do because of their ownership of one of your vehicles. You must strike each person’s buying nerve in a positive way by paying attention to the pictures your words are creating.

While most of what you say is specific to the particular vehicles you represent, there are many words that are commonly used in selling situations that you need to pay attention to. Some bring about positive images. Others don’t.

Here are a few to get you started on the road to more closed sales. [Read more…]

Closing Tough Sales – Put the Shoe on the Buyer’s Foot

42209 Put the ShoeWhen it comes to closing tough sales, it’s wise to mentally walk the proverbial ‘mile in the other person’s shoes’ so you can gain a clear understanding of their feelings about your company, your brand, or the specific product you market. In order to lower their defenses and open their minds to allowing you to serve their needs, it’s also critical that you put the shoe on the buyer’s foot.

This strategy is particularly helpful in situations where you are calling on a client who had a bad past experience with another representative of your company. You will have to work twice as hard to earn their business as you would with a buyer who has had little or no experience with your company.

This buyer will have built a pretty high wall of sales resistance, but just the fact that he or she has agreed to meet with you speaks volumes. Perhaps they love the product but just didn’t like the previous representative. You will have to sell yourself first.

This potentially tough conversation might begin like this: “The last guy from your company sold us the product then never called again. We had an issue with it right after installation and he wouldn’t return my calls. I have to tell you I was pretty fed up with the whole thing.” Ouch!

Even though you weren’t the “bad guy” in this situation, you are there to represent your company well. Start by apologizing for how the client was treated. “Let me begin by apologizing for how you were treated in the past.” It’s really that simple. Most people just want their discomfort or unhappiness acknowledged.

Then, to break down that wall of resistance, say: “Just for a moment, would you please pretend that you’re the owner of my company. You’ve just learned that one of your representatives has damaged your relationship with a valued client. How would you handle that situation?” This allows the buyer to envision the challenge being resolved. They might say, “I’d fire the jerk.” They might say, “I’d send that guy back through training or get him out of customer service all together.” It doesn’t really matter what they say. Just listen. Let them get it all out.

Then, take charge of the remedy yourself by saying, “That’s might very well be what happened because I’ve been assigned the task of resolving any past issues you had with our company and to provide you with excellent service going forward. Help me understand your needs so we can determine how best to serve them.” With those words you’ve just hurdled that wall of sales resistance and landed softly on the same side as your buyer.

If you never address that “elephant in the room” — the other salesperson or the bad equipment or poor service — the buyer will stay ever vigilant for the moment you prove yourself to be just like that other guy and provide disappointment. Would you rather help your buyers to be watchful for how great your service is?

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. For reprint permission, please contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).
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The 30-second Elevator Presentation

Elevator

Prepare an Elevator Presentation, Not an Elevator Pitch

A short while ago, I ran a contest on Facebook for the best Elevator Presentation. In more common terms, it’s often call “the elevator pitch,” but those of you who are already familiar with my training, know that “pitch” is one of the nasty words I teach sales pros to never say.

The idea behind the Elevator Presentation is that you should be able to describe what you do for a living in a clear and concise manner. Usually the drill for this starts with “Let’s say you step into an elevator with one other person and will be traveling 10 or more stories together. Since you’re in sales, you are always on the lookout for new leads. What would you say to this person to build their curiosity and earn the right to contact them after the elevator ride is over?”

We had dozens of entries to the contest. Many were very good. Some made me realize that I need to teach this concept in greater depth. All were interesting to read and analyze.

The first key to a successful elevator presentation is to be able to give the other person a mental picture of the benefits you provide. This means you use great descriptive words. What you don’t do is say, “I’m a real estate agent.” “I sell insurance.” “I do taxes.” Saying those things allows the listener to mentally picture whatever their pre-conceived notion is about those fields of endeavor. You want to engage them, not turn them off.

Many of the contest submissions began with “I help people…” or “I help companies…” which can be a good start. Think about how you would finish that sentence for the industry or product you represent.

Another key element in a good elevator presentation is to end it with a question. It could be as simple as “Isn’t that great?” which is a request for agreement from the other party. Or, it could be an involvement question related to one of your benefits such as, “How would something like that impact your business?”

To give you some real-life examples, I’ll post the three winning presentations here along with my comments.

3rd Place Winner – Claudio Ingleton, Century 21 King Realtor®

“I help homeowners professionally market and sell their homes. I also help first time buyers invest in the ownership of a home.  We have an exciting way to ensure people get what they want in the time that they want. Isn’t that great?!”

Note that Claudio does not start the conversation with “I’m in real estate.” Remember the purpose of the 30-second elevator presentation is to explain benefits and build curiosity. Ending his description with a question encourages the listener to respond and engage.

2nd Place Winner – Steve Cohen

“I help companies generate more income by getting them found online and make sure they have the right marketing message so their phone rings and people walk in the door.”

The benefit of generating more income will almost always be of interest to anyone in business. Online marketing is a very hot topic these days with most businesses. Most people in business after hearing this statement will say, “How do you do that?” That opens the door for Steve to either continue the discussion or get permission to contact them after the elevator ride is over. Remember, you aren’t trying to sell your product in 30 seconds. You are selling yourself just enough to capture a new lead.

1st Place Winner – Eddie Allen

“For nearly a decade, as an independent broker, I have specialized in identifying and providing solutions, by utilizing an efficient consultation and an effective educational approach with successful measures. My quality services are designed to help people with their personal, business, and financial goals, in regard to their risk management, retirement planning, and wealth preservation needs, by making available economical, value-added, timely protection options. Is protecting the people you love, along with your future,and the things you value the most, important to you?”

Even though this entry is a little longer than the others, Eddie has built in credibility by mentioning his longevity in the field and that he specializes (great word). The adjectives used help build positive mental pictures in the mind of the listeners. And, Eddie ends with a question that’s difficult to say “no” to. Few people will ever say that protecting the people they love is NOT important. Once they agree with him, Eddie has earned the right to ask for their contact information and the opportunity to serve their needs.

Invest 10 to 20 minutes as soon as possible to write your own elevator presentation. It will help you be prepared the next time you have a brief encounter with someone who might either need your service or know others who do.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. For reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

Understanding Your Potential Client’s Fear When Selling Financial Services

     Think for a moment about what the greatest enemy is to the process of helping people come to a decision that’s truly good for them. What is it that jumps in and brings presentations that were previously sailing smoothly along to a screeching halt? You may think it’s the financial aspects of your offering. Perhaps you think it’s the prospective client’s inability to make a decision.

     Well, if you think any of those things, you are right. But, with selling being what it is — a bottom line business — let’s dig deeper and find the bottom line of what lies between you and your ‘future client’ coming to an agreement.

     If you look at all the enemies to the sale that you and your associates can come up with, you’ll find they have a common denominator. That common denominator is a thing called FEAR. Fear is the greatest enemy you’ll ever encounter as a financial services professional. This includes your fear, the potential client’s fear, market and trend fears and so on. [Read more…]

Avoiding Awkward Beginnings in Car Sales

When you meet someone for the first time in your dealership, your goal is three-fold. You want to get them to:

1. Like you;

2. Trust you; and

3. Want to listen to you.

Those three elements are absolutely necessary in order for them to make a buying decision based on the information you share with them.

If they came in after calling and speaking with you, it’s likely you said the right things on the phone to get them to at least come in and see what you have available in both vehicles and terms. You’re starting out on the right foot here. They’ll be curious to learn more. That means they’ll be listening to you. [Read more…]