Technology has changed the very landscape of business and human relationships. It has created a global economy and allowed us to communicate and trade faster than ever before. However, while technology and a global economy have allowed us to meet more people it has also made building long-lasting relationships with people that much more difficult. Building a solid rapport and eventually, a long-term relationship with someone takes a lot of work, and in this fast-paced environment, it can be challenging to create an atmosphere where an individual feels that they are truly valued and not just another sales lead. Regardless if you are working as an entry-level sales associate or a high-level account executive, building solid relationships is still valuable. Let's take a look at some ways you can build solid rapport and long-lasting relationships with individuals.
Good relationships do not materialize out of thin air. They require a solid foundation built on good rapport and ultimately trust. It is the key to any business relationship and can’t be faked. It has to be real. A good start is by trying to find common interests. This will help lead your initial meeting in a direction that feels more like a conversation and less like a sales pitch. Talking about common interests can help you move the conversation towards finding out more about your prospect’s goals and challenges. It should be noted that not everyone is going to want to engage in small talk about last night's game or the weather. Rapport requires two-way communication so if it is apparent your customer doesn't want to chat about personal things, be prepared to move forward with company news and business in a way that shows genuine interest beyond the typical rapport-building topics.
Ultimately, building a solid relationship with another person in sales requires you to do what is in their best interests. In other words, your focus should be on helping to identify products or services that will make their life easier or solve a problem they have. You shouldn't be trying to sell them the goods or services that they won’t benefit from; even if it means a lesser sale or no sale at all. Putting the customer first in all situations creates a positive experience for them which ultimately builds trust and confidence -- which is essential for any successful long-term relationship.
Relationships are built and fostered even when you are not looking to make a sale. It is a good idea to call up clients and check-in on them. This type of engagement makes your client feel special and valued, and it can potentially create future sales opportunities which is a win, win. Make each of your interactions with clients meaningful by sharing relevant industry news, by complimenting them on a recent product launch or other personal success. It should not be the standard, “just calling to touch bases with you” call; it should have value for them. It is the little things that go a long way the next time you re-connect with them. A relationship that is built upon trust leads to a warmer reception the next time you place a sales call to them, and even if they aren't interested in buying that time around they will still listen to your pitch and perhaps even recommend a friend or a colleague to you.
Sales is a human field. The more you can connect with people and foster relationships with them, the more successful you will be at making sales and maintaining long-term contacts.
Nick Kane is a Managing Partner at Janek Performance Group. He has trained more than 15,000 sales professionals worldwide during the course of his career, and is passionate about helping sales professional improve their selling careers – and as a result, their lives as well. Nick has co-authored a book called Critical Selling: How Top Performers Accelerate the Sales Process and Close More Deals which was released by Wiley Publishing in October 2015.