Sales Process – Building Rapport – Intoduction Stage
This first stage of the sales process is the critical first impressions stage.
It’s important to understand that people always buy emotionally, even though they think they’re buying rationally. It’s emotions that drive wants and needs, so at the core of every sales opportunity there is an emotional need to be satisfied.
Many people will argue that their decision making is purely rational, but there is a mountain of scientific evidence continuing g to build that states the opposite is true. So, what is actually happening is that people will first make emotional judgements, and then use ‘rational’ decision making processes to justify those emotional judgements.
Why is this important?
Because it highlights the importance of building rapport in the very early stages of your sales process.
While there is a ton of literature on building rapport, I’ve broken the rapport building process down into a very simple formula. Your top two priorities in the rapport Building/Introduction stage of the sales process are:
- Establishing Common Ground
- Establishing Credibility
These are the two fundamental goals of the Introduction stage.
The first stage, establishing common ground is simply about making them feel comfortable with you as a person. This is the ‘meet and greet’ part of the meeting. A good way to ‘break the ice’ at this point is to look for commonalities between you, similar interests, hobbies, business experiences. You might notice a photo on their desk of their young children of a similar age to yours, a qualification from the same university as you, an award from an organisation you deal with, a testimonial to them from one of your own clients. It could be anything, but the key is to ‘break the ice’ and become comfortable enough to talk business.
Keep in mind though, you’re not there to make a new best friend and many business people will be put off if you spend too much time on the initial meet and greet part of the meeting. The main goal is to move into phase two, which is where the real rapport is built.
Rapport comes from respect. Even if someone doesn’t relate to you at a personal level, you can still build strong rapport simply by gaining their respect for your professionalism, expertise and ability to solve their problem.
The most important part of the Introduction phase of the sale is to build confidence in your prospective customer/client that you are an expert they can trust, with a potential solution to a problem that’s important to them. Three good ways to do this are:
- Ask good questions that demonstrate your understanding of their situation
- Be generous with helpful advice
- Demonstrate your expertise with problem solving discussion
If you build enough confidence in your prospective customer they will be more than willing to allow you to move them through to the next phase of the sales process.