Category Archives: Building Rapport
Sales account management tools like relationship maps, CRM solutions, and social networking sites are a great way to support your account management strategy. Selecting and using the right tools is an important part of successfully implementing an account management plan in your organization.
The three major components of account management are:
The creation of a plan The tools to support the plan Execution
In my previous post, I addressed developing a sales account management plan; now I’ll focus on sales account management tools.
Sales Account Management Tools Relationship Maps
A major element of account management is focusing on relationships — building them, maintaining them, and growing them.
Are you contacting the right people?
Do you know all the stakeholders in the buying process?
How would you know?
This is where relationship maps become useful tools.
Much like an organizational chart, a relationship map provides a visual reference of the people within the customer organization and who reports to whom. The more detail you add, the more helpful the map. Some people color-code names on their maps, identifying decision makers, influencers, and gatekeepers. Others also identify allies, coaches, detractors, supporters of competitors, and even neutral stakeholders.
The value of a relationship map is that it shows you where you are potentially vulnerable in a customer’s organization. Consider this point of view: “My contacts are mostly at the director level, and maybe I get to see a vice president » Continue Reading.
Rapport building in crucial, in fact, the most important advice for building rapport I can give is to make it as significant a part of the sales call as the Need Dialogue and Objection Resolution. This requires thorough preparation, and sales professionals need to acknowledge and embrace the opening element of rapport building. So, how can they do this?
Building Rapport Tip #1: Do your homework
Before any meeting, I do my research. I go to LinkedIn and Twitter and other social sites to look up the people I’m meeting with. I want to know what they’re interested in, what businesses they follow, what boards they sit on, what charities are important to them. This allows me to open with something connected to their interests.
“I know we want to get down to business, but before we start, I just want to commend you on your volunteer work with XYZ. I myself am on the board of ABC, so it sounds like we have a lot in common. I’d like to talk with you about that sometime.”
This kind of opener takes seconds and builds a bridge. The connection between our two volunteer endeavors is much more authentic than if I had commented on a fishing trophy hanging on the wall. Also, I haven’t taken too much time away from the meeting. My preparation allows rapport building to be shorter, more sincere, and more valuable » Continue Reading.
It seems to be a no-brainer that rapport building with customers is crucial for getting sales, however building rapport is a skill that many sales professionals struggle to master. But the reasons for doing so go well beyond any one sale or business engagement.
3 Reasons Rapport Building is Essential in Sales
The many reasons relationship and rapport building are essential include the following:
1) Rapport building is a critical step for any sales professional in earning the right to ask tough business questions in meetings and presentations. It is both difficult and awkward to ask tough questions if you haven’t earned the right to do so, and it’s hard to earn the right without some form of a relationship with the customer.
2) Consultative selling requires sales professionals to ask good, even penetrating, questions, and without the firm basis of an established relationship, these questions will never fly. If the customer thinks you’re asking questions just to get what you need to make a sale, it will be a short conversation indeed.
3) Rapport building is really about connecting. It’s about establishing a relationship. And the reason we, as sales professionals, do it is to set the stage for collaboration. We want to demonstrate our interest in win-win solutions, not win-lose. To do that, we have to empathize, show support, and acknowledge appropriately.
Rapport Building Helps You Earn the Right to » Continue Reading.
The ability to build rapport with others should be natural for sales professionals. It’s part human nature, part caring about customers, and a generous touch of sincere interest and curiosity.
Yet sales professionals often have a tough time establishing rapport. Even though they seem so sanguine and extroverted, they struggle with asking questions and probing gently about their customers’ personal lives and interests.
3 Reasons Sales Professionals Struggle to Build Rapport
1) Sales professionals may not see the need to build rapport, especially if they’re working with the same customers over and over again. A perfect example of this comes from one of my own clients. Its sales professionals call on the same handful of customers on a weekly basis. They’re so familiar with their customers that they go into meetings and jump right to business. They don’t understand the need to begin with some personal conversation first, and they question “wasting time” with small talk. What they don’t understand is the essential need to first establish personal links with their clients in each meeting. Moreover, they don’t understand what they’re sacrificing by not taking the time to discover if anything is new or different or if anything has changed with their customers or their business situations.
2) Sales professionals have been told that meetings should be strictly about business. This is old-school thinking, yet the perception persists. They’re afraid to spend too much time with small talk because they think » Continue Reading.
Objections are an inherent part of a sales professional’s job. It is virtually impossible to get through a sales opportunity without hearing at least one sales objection from the customer.
It could be as simple as a direct question to gain better understanding, or it could be as subtle as trying to assess a competitor’s claim. It could also be as uncertain as trying to second guess other decision makers within the customer’s organization.
Recognizing and addressing sales objections is critical to moving opportunities through the sales pipeline. Working with customers to resolve their concerns builds trust and credibility, as sales professionals demonstrate their commitment to truly meeting customers’ needs — not just pushing their company’s products.
In today’s environment of ultra-informed buyers, customers increasingly push back against canned sales messages and unclear benefits. They test potential partners, throwing up objections that are sometimes raised only to see how the sales professional will act. They want to know their questions will be answered and their concerns addressed. As a result, sales professionals have to demonstrate their ability to handle objections and keep the dialogue moving in order to be seen as credible and valued partners.
4 Steps to Successfully Resolving Sales Objections
To do this takes four simple steps, which together form the basis of Richardson’s objection resolution model:
Neutrally acknowledge the objection Ask open-ended questions to understand what is really driving » Continue Reading.
Your Client Network May Not be as Strong as You Think
Proficiency in sales is a desired objective for individuals interested in building their professional selling skills. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, certain proficiencies can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four proficiency traps and how to avoid them. The first was The Technical Trap; the second, The Execution Trap; and this third involves networking within the client organization.
Your Professional Selling Skills Can Be Improved by Focusing on Constant Networking
Sales professionals are usually quite good at building a network of relationships within client organizations. The trap they fall into, however, is taking these networks for granted. They fail to track how the structure, politics, or budget priorities change over time, and they overlook relationships that should be cultivated with other influential stakeholders.
Some buyer-seller relationships have been so longstanding that sales professionals begin to feel a little too secure. They may have earned trusted advisor status with key stakeholders and built a large network of contacts at different levels. This is all good — until it isn’t.
Few, if any, client organizations are static. Change can be fast or slow; come in spurts or be ongoing. In an increasingly challenging sales environment, change is to be expected and anticipated. » Continue Reading.
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.
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.