Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 30th, 2016

Five Tips to Establish Rapport with Prospects and Clients

build a rapport

In my previous blog post I reviewed Why Building Rapport Matters.  As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, before you make that next call or meet that next prospect, take the time to think about how you will establish rapport.Today, here are five tips to consider incorporating into your strategy to establish rapport and maintaining good relationships with clients:

Be genuine. First and foremost, be People can sense if you are faking interest, and they will be turned off right away. They make up their mind about who you are in the first minutes of an interaction. If they are not comfortable enough with you to trust your genuine interest, the relationship will be in trouble from the first conversation. Find commonality. Use social media tools like LinkedIn to find potential commonalities. Might your paths have crossed in a previous career? Did you work with someone the prospect has worked with? Did you go to the same school? Live in the same town? Beyond business commonalities, you may uncover personal commonalities, such as favorite bands, vacation spots, or family ties. Not all touch points can be uncovered online; sometimes, it is a matter of having a natural dialogue and good listening skills. That was how I learned that I knew the cousin of a prospect that I spoke with recently. While discovering a common acquaintance won’t guarantee business, it does open » Continue Reading.

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March 30th, 2016

When Warm and Fuzzy Doesn’t Build Rapport

building rapport

Building rapport is a fundamental component of any client or prospect interaction. However, it still tends to get overlooked, even though it is a key element in establishing and expanding relationships. Rapport is the first step in Relating, which with Presence, Questioning, Listening, Positioning, and Checking, forms Richardson’s Six Critical Skills for effective client dialogues.

Building rapport is where sales professionals break the ice with prospects. Because this is often associated with chitchat and social graces, few sales professionals really prepare when building rapport. They take the Popeye approach: “I yam what I yam.” As a result, they miss the opportunity to differentiate themselves and make an important connection.

Building rapport with a sales prospect can be established or thwarted in minutes. And, contrary to popular belief, it is not all about being warm and fuzzy. Sometimes you are able to break that wall down, and sometimes you cannot, but I always try. It can be difficult when you don’t have a genuine connection with clients. How many times are you going to talk about the weather? You also don’t want to sound bored or like you are faking conversation.

This does not mean that without rapport, you will never win the business. It just makes interactions more difficult or awkward. You risk not having a champion, so there will be no one to advocate for you on the client side.

How do you win over clients if » Continue Reading.

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March 28th, 2016

Why Building Rapport Matters

Building Rapport Creates Long Lasting Connections

I have been working with a prospect over the past few weeks, and it has been a good journey. She is not even a confirmed client yet, but I am extremely excited about the possibilities. What makes me so optimistic, either for the short-term opportunity or a future relationship, is how we connected instantly.

There are different ways to build rapport. On a personal level, building rapport can be accomplished by developing commonalities in life: living in the same town, having the same vacation experience, what someone reads like articles or a newsletter, knowing the same people, etc. On a professional level, rapport can be built by simply giving free advice and making a genuine connection and being able to converse about similar interests. This can be as basic as a personal talk or just being sincere in your efforts about what is communicated to your prospects and demonstrating that you care about their needs and hope to become a true partner.

In the case of the prospect that I mentioned earlier, we did not have a personal connection at first. She had a clear need. She knew what she wanted to do, and she was doing everything the right way. Her next step was to choose a partner from the outside to come in and train her people.

Our connection came through an open and engaging dialogue. I listened closely to what she was saying, » Continue Reading.

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March 23rd, 2016

“What Keeps You Up at Night” and Other Pitfalls When Asking Open Ended Questions

asking open-ended questions

There is one question that comes up in virtually every Richardson sales training session that I have conducted over the past 23 years. It is part of an activity in which teams practice coming up with and asking open-ended questions to buyers. This is the question that participants love to ask buyers — “What keeps you up at night?”

This was new, innovative, and fun back in 1997. Now, it is a cliché. It is a salesy question. If a buyer is interviewing four different companies to find the right partner, he/she can hear that question four times. In my training sessions, I work really hard with participants on asking open-ended questions that avoid this trap. The goal is to come up with classic questions that never go out of style. “What are your biggest worries when it comes to switching advisors?” If I am a buyer and you ask me a worry question, I’ll talk about my worries. You don’t have to make it a cliché about what keeps me up at night.

Another pitfall that I encourage sales professionals to stay away from involves trading questions: “If we are able to do X and Z for you, will you agree to do Y?” Asking open-ended questions with “If”; is a manipulative construction. Buyers see that you are trying to get them to say yes to something before they are ready. They hear the start of a » Continue Reading.

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March 21st, 2016

Combining a Directive Statement with Good Open-Ended Questions

good open-ended questions

The three strongest words to begin good open-ended questions are what, why, and how. I discussed this in my previous post: Generate Deeper Sales Dialogues with Strong Open-ended Questions.

Now, I want to share another tool to help you develop your questioning strategy — directive statements. These are statements that don’t end in a question mark, yet they draw the buyer into sharing more information with you. Try mixing these directive statements with good open-ended questions to get your buyer talking.

Tell me about “Tell me about your decision-making process.” “Tell me about your top two concerns when it comes to X.” Please describe “Please describe the rationale for putting this out to bid this year.” “Please describe the different criteria that you will measure this decision against.” Share with me “Share with me what you’re looking for in a financial advisor.” “Share with me management’s top initiatives for this year.” Help me understand “Help me understand why you are shopping the business around at this point in time.” “Help me understand the two biggest issues that are preventing you from moving this forward.”

There is one nuance to this approach. Make sure not to sabotage these directive statements.

It is: “Tell me about …” Not: “Could you tell me about …”

It is: “Please describe …” Not: “Will you please describe …”

It is: “Share with me …” Not: “Would you share with me …”

It is: “Help me understand » Continue Reading.

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March 17th, 2016

Generate Deeper Sales Dialogues with Strong Open-ended Questions

open-ended questions

When it comes to planning a questioning strategy, this is my philosophy: It is OK to ask people questions; it is not OK to question them.

What’s the difference? If the police show up at your door, put you in handcuffs, guide you to the backseat of their patrol car, and take you to the station, they’re going to question you. More to the point, they’re going to interrogate you.

When people feel questioned, they feel interrogated. It doesn’t matter if it happens at the police station or in their own office by a sales professional.

If, instead, people are asked questions, a dialogue can begin.

One of the more effective ways to generate dialogue is through the use of open-ended questions. These are the type that allows the customer or prospect to participate, engage, and elaborate in a discussion. Open-ended questions get customers talking and sharing information vs. feeling like the sales professional is drilling and grilling them.

Remember, we are all human beings, and human beings look for two things in an interaction. We want to be listened to, and we want to be understood. If I am a buyer, and I feel listened to and understood, then I will repay the favor and listen to what you have to say about your product, your service, and how you think that you can help me. So, if you want to ask me questions, first, let me talk » Continue Reading.

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March 14th, 2016

Establishing a Measurement Strategy for Sales Training

measurement strategy for sales training

In my previous posts — How Effective are Your Sales Training Programs? and Order Matters: The Sequence of Sales Training Measurement — I made a business case for measuring the impact of sales training and explained the proper sequence to do so.

At this point, you should be ready to establish your own measurement strategy for sales training . But first, I’ll share five guiding principles to help you through the process.

Principle One: Start Where You Want to End When you start with the end in mind, your measurement plan will be more likely to address those things that matter most to your business. You will be aligned with the outcome that you are trying to achieve. If you identify best practices and then establish current performance as a baseline, you can see where opportunities for improvement exist and track changes along the way. Principle Two: Feedback Is a Gift Giving feedback to the individual going through training should be part of the learning journey. For everything that is measured, make sure the individual has the opportunity to see his/her results and be a part of an ongoing developmental dialogue. Put the individual in charge of his/her learning, and help him/her understand how to use that information to guide his/her continuous learning. When he/she expects and get feedback, there is more engagement and compliance. Principle Three: Methodology Matters It is best to measure performance in » Continue Reading.

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March 10th, 2016

Order Matters: The Sequence of Sales Training Measurement

sales training measurement

Four tips for developing a sequence of sales training measurement

In my previous post — How effective are Your Sales Training Programs?  — we made a business case for why companies should invest in sales training measurement. Now that the importance of measurement has been established, it’s vital to adopt the proper measurement sequence to have the greatest impact on performance.

Sales Training measurement is not a one-and-done prospect. The standard pre- and post-test approach isn’t sufficient to achieve lasting change.

The Kirkpatrick Four-level Training Evaluation model has become a cornerstone in the learning industry, looking at reaction, learning, behavior, and results. These traditional measures are familiar and necessary, but they’re not sufficient. At Richardson, we build on the Kirkpatrick model by identifying additional factors that come into play.

Before training individuals, we want to know their natural talents and skills. There’s an important difference between the two. Talent refers to an individual’s aptitude and motivation. Talent is a part of their DNA because people can be great at jobs that are a good fit. The other side of that coin is that while a poor fit can be workable, it’s not optimal. It’s hard to be passionate about a job that doesn’t play to a person’s talents.

The other element involves skills. This is the “how” of doing something. Skills can be observed. If there was a video camera taping a client meeting, what would the camera » Continue Reading.

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