Written By: Mike Brooks
Nobody likes to buy from someone they don’t think cares about them or who is just interested in making a sale. People are just people like you or me, and they want to be treated as such. These communication techniques will help you have real conversations with people and help you build the rapport that can lead to a sale.
I don’t know what’s wrong with inside sales reps today, but they seem to lack the basic communication skills needed to connect with people when prospecting over the phone. Maybe it’s because the younger people in the work force are brought up communicating in a different way. Nowadays, they text and tweet and email and communicate through Facebook more than they do actually talk to each other. I was in a car the other day and the kid in the back seat was texting his brother in the front seat! Doesn’t anybody talk to each other, I wondered?
Sadly, it’s not just the younger segment of the sales force who doesn’t know how to build rapport. I listen to recordings of hundreds of inside sales reps from many different industries and most of them struggle to make a real connection as well. Instead, what they tend to do is pitch at people the moment they are given the chance. This turns prospects off and you can hear it in their voices as they respond with, “Just email me something,” or “We wouldn’t be interested.”
Cultivating A Connection
The good news is that there is a simple solution. By practicing just a few of the different techniques listed below, you and your team members can begin sounding much better and begin cultivating a connection and building real rapport. Remember, nobody likes to buy from someone they don’t think cares about them or who is just interested in making a sale. People are just people like you or me, and they want to be treated as such. These communication techniques will help you have real conversations with people and help you build the rapport that can lead to a sale.
Technique One: Stop using the worn out, “How are you today?” line. Please, instead use anything different like, “How’s your Friday going so far?” or “How’s your day going so far?” or “How’s Monday treating you?”
And when you use this opening, if they tell you and ask you how your day is going (always a good sign), then please take a moment to respond. Don’t just say, “Great, listen, the reason I’m calling is…” Instead, thank them for asking you and then give a thoughtful answer. And if they seem to be open to talking, use technique number two:
Technique Two: Take a minute to do research on what the weather is like or what event might be happening in your prospect’s area and ask about it. Simple things like, “Is it still raining over there?” or “How hot is it going to get over there today?” work really well IF and it’s an important IF, the prospect allows you some initial space. If they do, then ask these questions and then HIT YOUR MUTE while they answer. And that leads to technique number three:
Technique Three: Quick question for you: When was the last time you used your mute button for something other than to put a prospect or client on hold while you looked something up? In other words, have you lately (or ever!) hit your mute button after you asked a question or while your prospect was talking?
One of the most important ways of building rapport is to let someone finish their thoughts – or their sentences! If you record yourself and listen to your conversations with your prospects then you know how easy it is to talk over people. I use my mute button on every single call I’m on, and people are comfortable talking with me. And when they talk, they tell me how to sell them…
Technique Four: Learn how to use turn around statements. Most sales reps simply don’t know how to handle resistance or objections. Instead of softening their responses, most sales reps tend to argue or confront statements like, “We aren’t interested right now” or “We don’t have the budget,” etc. This just creates more resistance and tends to get people’s defenses up. The better to way to respond is by turning these negative statements around. Try:
“I understand, just out of curiosity, how are you handling your lead flow right now?” (Hit Mute)
“No problem, I’m not trying to sell you anything on this call, instead I was wondering if I might tell you a little about how we handle that so if you need to make a change in the future you’ll have someone else to call. Can I ask you…” (Hit Mute)
“I’m with you and can I ask how open you’d be to getting another bid/quote the next time you’re in need of this?” (Hit Mute)
Turn around statements reduce resistance and keep you in the conversation
Technique Five: My first sales manager asked me if I’d like to know the secret to closing sales, and I was all ears. He wrote this for me and told me that if I learned how to do it, I would be able to build rapport, gain trust and close more deals. Here’s what he wrote down:
The secret to sales is to “Listen, Think B-4 Responding.” Although this seems straightforward enough, it took me about 3 years to learn how to do. To practice it, you’ll need to use your mute button often, have prepared scripts and formatted questions, and you’ll need to practice the good communication skills above. Once you do, however, you’ll learn how to have meaningful – and profitable – conversations with prospects and clients alike.
Now, do you remember in the beginning that I said that these techniques were a simple solution to building rapport? They are simple, but they are not always easy to practice. You’ll need to use them over and over to get comfortable with the silences that can sometimes happen while a prospect is thinking or composing their thoughts. But if you get good at them, I guarantee that you’ll become a top producer faster than doing just about anything else.
Mike Brooks is the founder of Mr. Inside Sales, a North Carolina based inside…
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