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…]

Award Winning Book

I’m proud to announce that my latest book, Selling in Tough Times, has won the 2011 National Trophy for Business Books in the category of Tools & Methods in France.

Here’s a brief except of the book that I hope you find useful:

Steeling Yourself for Survival by Tom
Hopkins from Selling in Tough Times

In order to survive any challenge that negatively impacts your selling career, you need to follow the Boy Scout motto of “being prepared.” So, how do you prepare yourself for some unknown event that may pop up on the horizon?

You begin with a commitment to personal growth. Personal growth is a process of increasing your knowledge and effectiveness so you can serve more, earn more and contribute more to the betterment of yourself, your family and all of humankind. It demands an investment of time, effort and money. Keep in mind that if you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind.

[Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 4: Making Good Eye Contact

There are all sorts of sayings about eye contact such as:

  • If you won’t look me in the eye, I can’t trust you.
  • The eyes are the mirror of the soul.
  • The eyes have a language of their own.

These few sayings alone demonstrate the power of eye contact. They tell you that you must use your eyes to build trust, demonstrate sincerity and speak honestly.

I teach nine steps to building rapport at my 3-day, high-intensity Boot Camp Sales Mastery program. The fourth step, making good eye contact, is one of the most challenging for some people who are new to sales. It’s also a challenge for some veterans who aren’t closing as many sales as they would like. They just don’t realize it.     [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 3: The Handshake

To shake or not to shake, that is the question. It used to be that salespeople would always shake the hands of everyone they met. In today’s world, that isn’t always the case. As with many aspects of selling, clients should be treated the way they want to be treated. And, there are people out there who just don’t want to shake your hand.

Depending on what your product is, the handshake may be inappropriate. For example, if you market products to senior citizens, there’s a likelihood that they might have arthritis in their hands and shaking hands is uncomfortable for them. Be aware and be gentle with those people. If you market products to people in the health care field, they may be averse to the handshake because of the potential spread of germs. In these situations it never hurts to ask (with a smile) “May I shake your hand?”

However, in most sales situations, a handshake is appropriate and expected. Handshakes can be very telling. If yours is weak, it makes a negative first impression on your potential clients. If it’s too strong, that can also create a negative impression. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 2: Remembering Names

In sales, we meet a lot of people. And one of the most important things to every person we meet is their name. So, it’s critical that we get those name right…and that we remember them.

I’ll never forget one incident that embarrassed me so much that I immediately sought a way to change how I remember names. I had met a very nice couple and spent quite a bit of time over one weekend showing them homes. On Sunday afternoon, we found the home that met all their needs and they wanted to make an offer. As I filled out the legal documents, I said to the husband, “Shall I put your name down as Bob or Robert?” He said, “Tom, I think Jim makes a lot of sense.” [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 1: The Power of Your Smile

Your primary goal when working with a new potential client is to get them to like you, trust you and want to listen to you. That’s the absolute most basic foundation of all of my training. The reason you take the actions and use the words I teach is that they’ve all been designed and proven to make you likeable, demonstrate trustworthiness, and say something worth listening to.

This is one of the most miniscule strategies I teach, yet it can make or break your career. Don’t dismiss this or take this information lightly because it’s one of the first things people see in an intial contact and it sets the stage for how the rest of your contact goes. [Read more…]

Solve the Selling Puzzle

The selling process can be broken into very specific pieces like a jigsaw puzzle. Our goal as professionals is to put each piece in its place in order to earn a new client. Here’s an overview of ideas to maximize your efforts in each area.

The first piece in the selling cycle is prospecting. There are many ways to prospect. One of the most common is via the phone. Try this phraseology when you call a company where you’re trying to get in to meet the decision-maker: “Hello, my name is Tom Hopkins. I’m in business in the community.” Don’t give the name of your company when you’re making this type of call. “I’m calling regarding your (state what your product or service does) needs. Who in your company is responsible for that?” (Before they can answer, continue) “By the way, who am I speaking with please?”  When the receptionist gives his or her name, use it, “Ann, thank you for your help.” Many receptionists don’t get a lot of recognition. Always try to gain an ally by giving them some.

The second piece in the puzzle is called original contact. When you meet a person you must radiate the goal of helping them like you, trust you, and want to listen to you. You do this through the steps of building rapport, letting them know that they’re important to you and that you’re there to serve. Show you care in your eye contact, with your smile, and with the questions you ask about them and their needs.

[Read more…]

The Most Effective Product Demonstration Ever!

As with most things in life, there are many ways to accomplish a single task. Wise business professionals are constantly on the lookout for better ways to make their points or present their products. In our book, Sell It Today, Sell It Now, Pat Leiby and I teach a proven-effective procedure for product presentations or demonstrations that is sure to work for you. It is a critical part of the Sell It Today system that can turn you into a one-time closing champion.

Our procedure begins with preparation. Thinking about the client you will present to next, break down your product demonstration into segments highlighting each individual feature of your product or service that you know will benefit this client.

[Read more…]

The Survey Approach to Prospecting

If you have access to a postal mailing list for potential clients, I suggest sending them a simple, one-page letter of introduction then following up with a phone call. [Even better, if you can network with someone else who already does business with the people you’re trying to approach, get their permission to send the letter under their name.] If you have access to email lists, consider using those addresses in a similar manner.

The letter needs to be personalized with the recipient’s name. Don’t send letters with a salutation of “Dear Friend” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Here’s a sample letter derived from my book, Sales Prospecting for Dummies. [Read more…]

The “I can get it cheaper” Close

Even if you’re brand new to selling, you will have likely hear this one from clients. Nearly all of them say it. Some may use differenet forms such as wanting to shop around or look for a better bargain but it means the same thing. It’s nothing more than a little sign of fear on the part of the buyer.

Their fear is twofold. One fear is that they’re making a bad decision. The other is that they will part with too much of their money for what they’re gaining in benefits. Either way, they’re telling you that they do want your product. Your job is to calm those emotional fears and help them to rationalize the decision. [Read more…]