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In his book ‘Integrity Selling’, Ron Willingham discusses the AIDInc process of selling – Approach, Interview, Demonstrate, Vali-I-date, Negotiate, and Close. He writes about the four styles of buyers – talker, doer, supporter, and controller. But he also notes: “I think there’s a danger in being overly concerned with identifying buyer styles… so concerned that we don’t really listen and develop empathy with people. Then our selling becomes technique-based, not principle-based and value focused.”
Sales is a people business. Willingham recognizes this when he says that developing trust and rapport precedes any selling activity. Thus, the approach stage is first in the AIDInc process. It is the stage at which rapport is established with the prospective customer. Unless you achieve a bond between you, it is unlikely that you will move to the next stage of AIDInc.
The following three behaviors are integral to building the trust needed for salespeople to move a new relationship to the next level (and to maintain current good sales relationships):
You’re not an actor, playing a different role for every other job you get. If you take this approach, you will complicate your working life beyond comprehension. Which persona do you portray with different customers, and how do you play these multiple roles, should different customers meet?
It's imperative that you be yourself; but do you know who your genuine self is? How do you respond to certain situations? Can you control these responses?
Onboarding emotional intelligence skills will empower your self-awareness and self-regulation – your understanding of your inner self and ability to regulate your responses in any given situation. Thus, you can be yourself and choose what actions you take, rather than act on impulse.
Be warm, friendly and inviting. Don’t be cold – if you are, you’ll get an icy reception. Smile. Make eye contact. Engage with the customer from the first handshake.
Empathy is the key that opens the door of rapport. Be interested in the customer on a personal level, not purely business. Ice-breaking conversation is essential to building rapport, even when time is limited. Ask about the customer’s background, their hobbies (“How do you relieve the stress of your job?”), where they live, and so on.
Be sincere in your interest – you’ll relax the customer and encourage them to share. When this happens, you will find common ground on which you can connect as people and build trust by being open about yourself in return.
When you are on a path of discovery, it pays to be socially aware. This emotional intelligence skill will enable you to recognise and understand how your customer is feeling, the response that is likely, and increase your ability to show empathy.
While you should always be yourself, never ignore the cultural context of the customer. Remain wary of how the customer’s culture dictates their actions, and the response you should give.
Giving compliments can inspire a relationship, providing they are genuine. Congratulate the customer on recent awards or promotions. Tell them you are impressed with their website, or their latest revenue numbers. But never go overboard with compliments. Doing so puts you in the category of appearing too needful of being liked. You are trying to build rapport and trust, not be sycophantic and subservient.
This is another skill that those with high emotional intelligence have in abundance: relationship management – the ability to communicate effectively and express emotions rationally.
Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and ignite sales.
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