Think about your sales call from the prospect’s point of view. They don’t know you well and so they are guarded. Help them feel comfortable with you as a person before discussing what you sell.
Here are some suggestions to help you:
- Use humor. But not just any humor. Forget jokes, most of us are terrible joke-tellers. Leave joke-telling to the professionals. Instead, show that you have a warm and friendly sense of humor. The goal is to make the prospect smile and be open to you.
- Be friendly. Ask great open-ended questions about them. One example: “I’m always curious about career paths. Tell me how you got into this business.” Open questions are much less threatening than closed questions. A closed question is one that is answered with yes or no. Or with one word that ends the conversation. Open-ended questions also give the prospect the chance to talk about themselves and their business. Nod, listen and take notes. There are gems hidden in these answers.
- Be nice. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Treat the other person with respect. Don’t interrupt them, let them finish their thought. Build on what they say.
- Be a good communicator. Ask clarifying questions to better understand what the prospect is saying. Maintain eye-contact and good posture. Your words, tone of voice and facial expression should all be saying “I’m interested in you and what you’re saying.”
- BONUS! Next steps. Now that you have established rapport, you will gently exert some control by stating the agenda: “Today, I thought we would talk about your needs for next year.” Many prospects are expecting you to control the sales call. They don’t want it to be their responsibility.