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…]

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

Four Social Media Tips

I don’t profess to  be an expert in social media. I do profess to be an expert on the subject of selling. That being said, let me give you four social media tips for sales pros.

Tom HopkinsTip #1 – Complete Your Profile
Complete your profile before trying to connect with people. I see this most often on LinkedIn. I receive literally hundreds of requests to connect with people on LinkedIn every month. I view LinkedIn as a tool…not a race to see how many connections I can make. I want to know who these people are.

  • If you haven’t yet uploaded a photo of yourself or your product, you’re not ready to use LinkedIn as the valuable tool it is. If you don’t like any of your photos, have a professional take one. It’s 100% worth it.
  • If you have not included at the very least your job title, your industry and your company name, you’re only toying with this incredible resource.

If I cannot determine from your profile whether or not we have something in common that’s related to business, I will not accept the connection. And you should treat LinkedIn the same way.

Tip #2 – Be prepared to work.
Somewhere along the line a lot of people got the idea that because postings appear instantaneously, that it’s a shortcut to success. There are no shortcuts to success. Selling always has been and always will be a process of building relationships.

Social media is an excellent tool for building relationships but the basic principles of selling still apply. You must prospect, connect, establish rapport, and qualify before you can earn the right to present any type of offer.

Tip #3 – Schedule social media time wisely.
In reading a comment in one of your groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, you read a great comment by Bob Smith. You let Bob know how much you appreciate what he said. Someone else comments on your comment. Another chimes in with a link that takes you away from the conversation and off onto another topic. Eventually, you come back to trying to connect with Bob outside of this conversation. When you view his profile, you note that he’s connected with someone else you might want to connect with…and it goes on and on. Next thing you know, it’s 11AM and you have not yet invested any part of your day in your real job–interacting directly with people who are in a position to own your product or service.

How much time is reasonable for you to commit to social media? What time of day is best for you to do it? Not your best selling time. Figure that out. Schedule it. Set a timer if you must, but STOP when it’s time to move on to another productive activity.

Tip #4 – Offer assistance before attempting to sell.
You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and say, “Read my book!” “Subscribe to my blog!” or “Buy my product!” (Well, some people might act that way, but not sales pros, right Champions?) So don’t do it in social media. Engage people first. Offer to be of assistance. Ask questions about their challenges, their needs. Then, only after a comfortable dialog has been established have you earned the right to even mention the possibility of providing service.

Social media is today’s hot tool  for communication. And, it can be quite fun and productive–when you use it like a tool. The frenzy around it is not very different from new innovations in selling in the past–the f ax machine, overnight delivery, computers, mobile phones, laptops, e-mail, tablets and so on. Those are all tools of the trade that have moved business communications forward. They have accelerated the speed with which we can gain new knowledge and communicate with others. They have not replaced the communication process that is essential to the sales process.

As with any new tool, there are best practices for maximizing the effectiveness of social media. Invest the time to understand it. Use it wisely. And, you’ll gain the incredible benefits it can bring to your career.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Rapport Building – Step 6: Finding Common Ground

In the rapport setting stage of selling, your #1 goal, as stated in other blog posts on this site, is to help people to like you, trust you and want to listen to you. If you think about selling situations you’ve been in yourself, you’ll have to admit you have the same preference. The sale just seems to flow more smoothly when you learn that you have something in common with the salesperson. So, part of your job in this stage of the sale is to learn something about your buyers that you have in common and talk about it briefly to demonstrate that commonality.

Here are some areas to consider in consumer sales (B-to-C):

  • Are they married?
  • Do they have kids? If so, how many? What ages? Are the kids involved in sports, music or other activities?
  • Are these people sports fans? What sports? What teams? (Take note if they’re wearing a local team’s jacket, shirt or baseball cap.)
  • What part of town do they live in?
  • Have they always lived in this city? If not, what area of the country did they move from? If you moved to the area from elsewhere you can briefly talk about first impressions of the area or what they enjoy most about living there. [Read more…]

What you should know about building trust

During one of the most brutal battles of World War I, the fighting stopped for one particular evening. Christmas Eve. Men on both sides of the battle lines hunkered down in their cold fox holes for at least one night of peace.

Soon, a Christmas carol was heard floating on the cold air across the contested ground. The language was different, but everyone knew the tune and soon both sides were singing together. Before the evening was over several of the men emerged from their muddy trenches, met in “no man’s land,” and exchanged greetings and even humble Christmas gifts with their enemies.

If battle-hardened men who were in the midst of trying to conquer each other’s territory can find common ground in no man’s land, then certainly we salespeople can do the same thing on the showroom floor, at the executive desk, or the dining room table.

Finding that common ground is critical to building a level of trust that lowers sales resistance. During this early segment of the sales process, you should search for areas of interest you share with each new person you meet. The supply of topics is practically endless. For example, family, the weather, sports, hobbies, or current events are natural choices in consumer sales. If you’re in business-to-business sales, you can always ask those questions as well as questions about their company, products or industry. [Read more…]

Building Client Relationships

When it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In kindergarten, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play, and being “nice” to them. They often hear these words: “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.”

In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends…not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who care about you. [Read more…]

Be Aware of Unique Cultural Needs in Sales

If you do business with people from cultural groups different than your own, you would be wise to invest some time understanding their cultures as well as their needs in terms of your products and services. You may not necessarily be doing business with people in another country, but with those from other countries who have relocated near your place of business. If you want their business, you have to understand their needs on many levels.

Also, if you are building a web site for your business, you need to consider who the viewer might be and their cultural situations. Some words and phrases just don’t translate to have the same meaning that you may wish to impart, thus, confusing the visitor.  Or, worse, the translation may unintentionally be offensive when made.

Here are a few things you need to be aware of when dealing with clients from different cultures than your own.

* Be patient when building trust and establishing relationships. People from countries other than the U.S. generally need more time to build trust. It is important to observe a greater degree of formality when becoming acquainted than you would use with a client who was born and raised locally.

* Speak more slowly than you normally do, but don’t raise your voice because you think the other person can’t understand you. Volume doesn’t usually increase comprehension. Also, don’t speak down to them as if they are children.

* Avoid slang, buzzwords, idioms, jargon, and lingo. These can all be easily misunderstood by those who may not speak your language as their primary language. Just use simple language until you can get an idea of what level of your language they understand.

* If you’re using an interpreter, make sure the interpreter meets with the people for whom they are interpreting before you actually begin to sell them your product or service. This will allow the interpreter to learn the language patterns, special terminology, and numbers used by the people they’re translating for. If you’re business sells to other businesses, you need to be certain you are both using the same product identifiers or other codes specific to that company or industry to ensure that you both understand the needs and terms of any transaction.

* Pay attention to nonverbal interaction cues. The word yes or an affirmative nod often means, “Yes, I hear you,” in Asian cultures, not, “Yes, I agree.” If you see a nod and move on to closing the sale, you may frighten them off with what appears to them as over-zealousness.

Culture is as much an influence on people as their personal experiences, so knowing about your clients’ customs and traditions only makes sense. That way, neither you nor your client will be made to feel uncomfortable and selling can be done.

If you need or want to find out about another culture, some wonderful resources are available to steer you in the right direction and tell you everything you need to know. Spend some time browsing through your local library or bookstore to see what’s out there. Or go online and look under the topics of “protocol,” “diversity,” or “cultural awareness.”

Depending on your product and how much business you might be doing with clients from cultures unfamiliar to you, a good source we found is: http://www.usaprotocol.com/. This where you’ll find the 25th Anniversary Edition handbook for U.S. diplomats on proper etiquette and protocol for engagements with people from diverse cultures around the world.

Remember: Knowledge is power when properly applied to the right situation.

Learn more now>>

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

 

 

7 Steps to Establishing Rapport

Before beginning your presentation, spend some time establishing rapport. This is a vital “warm up” to any sale. You have to make your potential clients comfortable with you before they’ll want to listen to you or answer your questions.

First, always use the client’s name the way they give it. If your client introduces himself as Anthony, don’t call him Tony. Don’t ever change a name. Just remember it correctly and be prepared to use it a few times during the presentation.

Next, make good eye contact. There is an old adage that if you can’t look me in the eye, I can’t trust you. I don’t know if that is necessarily true, but if they believe it, it is! [Read more…]