Customer service sales teams, anyone pitching for business and contracts – we all need to develop a great rapport with our listeners. To achieve that, it’s important to understand your impact on others and develop a few skills and techniques to maximise that advantage. Our training can help your people build those skills.
How you think affects how you feel, which controls how you behave. You can step in and take control over that process at the thinking stage.
Think personal brand: What people say about you when you leave the room. We all have one. Your company brand is what people think, feel and say about the company and it all starts with you and how you behave towards your customers and clients.
Think impact: What annoys you about salespeople? Intruding on my life, my break, my train of thought … that fakey-matey ‘how are you today?’ … using my name every other sentence … reading at me from a script in a too-fast, aggressive and pushy monotone … You know what you don’t like, so remember that.
Think customer first: It isn’t about your need to make that sale, it’s their need for the best service and product for them that matters. Getting a great dialogue going helps you meet customer needs.
Think rapport: Most people are nice and want to like, trust and understand you. To achieve that, you need to build rapport, or a ‘good understanding of someone & ability to communicate well with them’ [Dictionary Cambridge], and empathy: ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’ [Oxford Dictionaries].
Why do you buy?
Generally, we buy for pleasure or to relieve pain, to save or make money, or to get an easy life. So how can you know what they need, what prompts them to consider buying from your company? Ask them, listening and observing as they think and answer.
What do you first notice about people? It’s usually how they look and sound. And that’s what they first notice about you.
When you meet face to face, your first impact is visual. We make up our minds about someone within a few seconds of seeing them. On the phone those channels of communication do narrow, losing the nuances of eye contact, expression, gesture and body language. But just slump and look gloomy for a moment – do you feel particularly poised, positive and alert? Now sit up, drop your shoulders and smile. Physicality affects your attitude and your voice. They can hear it, so for first impressions, always imagine they can see you when you’re on the phone.
Then focus in on your vocal and verbal impact; what you say and how you say it. The ability to control, develop and use your voice is a vital personal and professional asset for your toolkit.
LEAPS: The flipside of talking is listening. Remember the LEAPS technique: Listen to what they’re saying, Empathise with their perspective, Ask questions to show you’re listening and understanding, Paraphrase back as you go to show you’ve understood and Summarise their story at end.
It’s really about being positive about listening, not just talk talk talk. Successful sales people observe what customers say, how they say it, and what they don’t say. Pay full attention to them, and what feelings or emotions may be coming through.
A great voice begins with controlled, calm breathing. Using a measured and varied tone and pace helps you deliver your message, helps the listener understand and follow what you’re saying – and helps you sound less like a pushy salesman.
What you say will affect your customer’s understanding and trust. Of course you’ll be giving information to your customers – they’ll ask you questions because they want more from you, they want to take part in the conversation, or they may want to test you and have their say. How you answer their questions will influence their decisions.but you can only know what information to give by asking the right questions.
Sales people ask questions to make the customer feel valued, asking their opinion and encouraging them to think about their needs. It helps you gather the information you need and start to introduce a change of thinking that may lead to a sale. If you know how to use questions well, you can develop your ability to influence how they think and respond.
We like to buy from people and companies we like and trust, and being more intuitive and self-aware will help you build that rapport with your customers. Management Creative offer corporate training in a range of interpersonal skills:
- Appraisals, feedback and the difficult conversation
- Facilitation and coaching
- Pitching, persuading and influencing