David Sandler said, “sales is not a place to get your emotional needs met,” yet salespeople still force their prospects into “relationship building” chatter that ends up damaging their chances of closing.
Yes, people buy from people and people buy from people they like and trust, but how we want to build rapport and how our prospect wants to build rapport are likely different and it’s the prospect’s preference that matters.
In terms of preference for rapport building think in terms of “reserved” communicators and “active” communicators. Reserved communicators think then talk. Active communicators talk to think. Neither is good or bad.
When communicating with a new person for the first time it’s best to err on the side of “reserved.” If we lead with a reserved communication style (steady pace, tonality neither to high nor excitable) and we are speaking with an active communicator who tends to speak faster with sudden changes in pitch or intonation, they will “pull” us toward their preferred style.
On the other hand, if we lead with an active style and we are speaking with a reserved communicator they are likely thinking “who is this maniac? I want to get out of here as soon as possible” 75 seconds into our initial visit. The reserved communicator will be polite and cordial past their initial “get me outta here” reaction, but we’ve seriously damaged our chances of working with them.
In addition to “active” and “reserved” styles we also tend towards being “task oriented” communicators or “people oriented” communicators. Someone who is reserved and task oriented is unlikely to want to spend much time “getting to know each other personally” while an active and people-oriented individual may spend the first 57 minutes of a 60-minute meeting talking about everything aside from the purpose of our call.
Just as we can “sell past the close” we can “bond past the point of rapport” both of which damage our chances of closing.
One of my mentors, Andrew Wall once said to me, “businesspeople bond by getting down to business.” We don’t need to be BFFs with a prospect to close. We need enough rapport so that they believe that we have the right solution to solve their current problem. After we close we will deepen and widen our relationship with our client, but if we believe we need to turn a prospect into a friend before they become a client our sales cycles will lengthen and we’ll lose to competitors who were more focused on solving our prospect’s problem than becoming their buddy.
Until next time… go sell something.