A crucial step to gaining the trust—and business—of your prospects is to engage in relationship-building conversations. Building a trusting relationship should always start with getting your prospect to like you and even to identify with you on a personal level. How do you do this? By asking lots of great questions! People in business are like everyone else—they love to talk about themselves. That’s why one of the best ways to get your prospect to like you is to ask them questions about themselves and their business that get them talking and demonstrate a genuine interest on your side.
A key principle here is to keep the spotlight on them. You want the prospect to be the one doing most of the talking—especially in the beginning of the conversation. If you start to feel the spotlight moving toward yourself, turn it back around as quickly as possible. Again, the way to do this is simply to ask lots of open-ended (not yes or no) questions.
At the same time, don’t force it. The conversation should feel natural, not like an interview or interrogation. Some prospects may have more of a “strictly business” attitude at first, and you need to be sensitive to that. Remember that relationship-building happens over time and some prospects may require a slightly different approach to build that trust and rapport with them. If you feel that initial conversation getting awkward, or they’re not interested in small talk, try shifting the conversation to something they are excited to discuss. The goal is to get them talking about themselves/their business and to keep the spotlight on them, no matter what. Another way to think about this conversation is to think of it like a first date—if it’s good for dating, it’s good for sales. Ask questions, take a genuine interest in the other person’s responses, and take your time.
Equally important as the principle that people by from people they like, is the less-cited truth that people buy from people who like them. While you definitely want your prospect to like you, it’s just as critical that your prospect knows you like them. Yet again, questions are key here—asking thoughtful questions and really listening to your prospect’s responses shows them you’re genuinely interested in them. Another easy way to express that you like someone is to respond to something they say with enthusiasm—it can be as simple as, “Wow, that’s so interesting!”
When it’s time to move on from the small talk and start moving your prospect down the sales hallway, your responsibility is to proactively address potential objections before they’re raised by your prospect. As you shift to talking about yourself and your company, it’s critical to stay in tune with your prospect’s emotions and experiences that drive their decision making—especially fear and risk. Once you’ve shed light on the monsters of risk and fear and proactively alleviated their concerns, you can shut the door and move on to the next issue.
Curious what that essential next step is, exactly? I lay it all out for you in my new book, Consistency Selling. Stay tuned for the release in October 2, 2018!