Have you ever been set up on a really bad blind date? You are probably thinking to yourself, “What the heck does a blind date have to do with sales rapport and referrals?”
The sales and dating analogy isn’t a new concept. Both parties are feeling each other out to see if there is a connection, sometimes it works, and sometimes it ends prematurely. Truth be told, it is astoundingly accurate.
Referrals are simply blind dates.
A mutual connection helps arrange a meeting, and each party has a little bit of knowledge – accurate or not – and eventually a connection is made.
Like blind dates, referrals don’t just happen overnight. Reps can’t expect someone they’ve just met to introduce them to a colleague. Referrals are entirely built on trust, and trust starts with rapport.
5 Ways To Improve Sales Rapport
If your reps struggle with building relationships with their clients, rapport is likely the missing ingredient. Today’s sales strategies are so focused on winning business that the relationship aspect and genuine rapport often take a backseat to “sales success.”
Actual success in sales should be framed around each relationship your team has with their clients. When the relationship is the focal point and sales rapport is built, referrals will follow.
Here are five ways your team can improve their rapport with customers and land great blind dates.
Invest in the relationship
If someone you have just met asked you to introduce them to your sister, would you do it? Probably not. Your relationship with your sister is more important than your relationship with this person that just walked into your life.
The same is true with referrals. Reps have to be willing to invest in the relationship with the client without expecting anything in return. This can be a hard pill to swallow for reps that have focused on closing at all costs their entire career.
The beauty, and challenge, of this approach, is that it only requires one thing from the rep – actively choosing to serve. When reps choose to serve, they place an emphasis on sales rapport, building trust along the way. When trust exists, introducing a friend or colleague becomes easy.
How do your sales reps approach a prospect? That might seem like a complicated question but consider the following. Reps typically fall into one of two categories, they either lead with the product or actively try to learn about the customer’s needs to see if there is a fit.
Traditionally we see this in prospecting, but it pops up in each conversation with a client. Replacing the “here’s what I can do for you” mentality can be difficult for some reps because aggressive sales tactics have been the prevailing strategy for decades. Flipping the script and asking “what are your needs and how can I help” is a big adjustment, but it is one that is essential to building rapport.
We are all guilty of falling into the trap of believing we know what the customer needs. The truth is we may only see a small piece of the puzzle, and we can only uncover other pieces by asking questions.
Make it easy
Even in romantic comedies, you don’t hear the person arranging the blind date tell one friend that they are going to set them up with someone that is a hot mess. Referrals are no different.
When a client makes a referral, they want their friend or colleague to have a good experience. They will base everything on their personal experience with your organization. Reps that prioritize sales rapport make the process easy from the start and will find that the relationship will organically grow without much additional effort.
This is particularly important during high-tension phases of the process, like negotiations. The urge to push for a higher price point, or not give a discount is nothing more than the rep putting their needs above the clients. The rep has 100% control over tension and can Drop the Rope® at any point in time when a back-and-forth tug-o-war happens during the process.
Think like a consultant
Reps that lead with the product can easily be blind to the fact that their product might not be the best fit for the customer. Taking a consultative approach means that the rep might not always win. Consultants always put the good of the client first which requires an Other-Centered® mindset.
Not all reps are able to turn off their internal switch to transform from hunter to farmer. The key is consistency. Every engagement is an opportunity to build sales rapport and focus on the client’s problems and goals. Over time, rapport will increase and client conversations will move well beyond the benefits of whatever product is being sold.
If you have ever been set up on a blind date, chances are it was someone that you knew pretty well. A good friend, or perhaps a relative. The blind date didn’t originate from someone that you haven’t spoken to since high school.
Access to referrals requires reps to remain engaged with the client well after the ink has dried. Many organizations have moved a swift handoff between the sales and customer service teams, inhibiting potential growth in the relationship between sales reps and their clients.
Those structures may be needed, but reps should be encouraged to continue communication with clients. Deepening a relationship is the end game, and it is one that may not yield an immediate ROI. However, as the relationship grows, the likelihood of referrals and upsell opportunities will increase.
Improve Sales Rapport With ASLAN Training
Relationships don’t happen overnight, they require time and investment. The better your team becomes at creating sales rapport with their clients, the easier it will be to build trust and referrals will simply become a byproduct.
ASLAN training helps reps focus on building relationships through an Other-Centered approach. Our philosophy and approach is straightforward, but highly effective, regardless of industry. Every rep on your team has the ability to become better at building rapport, and we are here to help them unlock that power. Learn more about ASLAN training and schedule an assessment if it makes sense to take a closer look.