Rapport is a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well. But how does this extend to the digital sales world, where communication is largely hidden behind screens?
Buyer beware has become "seller beware", resulting in the unprepared salesperson more exposed than ever before.
The Internet has given the buyer more power than the salesperson.
So how do you build rapport with a consumer that is super tech savvy and has all the answers, reviews, prices, and comparisons sitting just a cell phone swipe away?
Progressive Salespeople have been grappling with the challenges that come with their prospects having critical information at their fingertips. It has changed the buying cycle and the way sales works. Inbound sales is new way of working.
The good news is, you can use this same information to help you build the rapport that is vital to sealing the deal. Both prospect and the salesperson have remarkable access to information that aids the buying and selling process.
With the revolution of the Internet, the sales learnings of by-gone eras have changed. The old sales rule book is out the door. Let's gain inspiration by discovering what has not changed.
Prospects are still people
People like to do business with people that they like and find friendly. Consumers do business with those salespeople that respect their needs and help them fulfil their wishes, beyond expectations.
No matter if you are B2C, B2B, or B2G, making sales is still ultimately all about P2P, people to people.
While the Internet allows people to do more research, in many cases they still seek P2P personal fulfilment.
So how do your digital assets build rapport? What are your digital sales assets? As a salesperson, are your assets in shape? Are you using the web to build a close and harmonious relationship with your prospect?
Here are tips and actions points to a rapport building overhaul.
Your educating website
Does your website answer your customers' questions? Are you providing solutions and help for every stage of the buying process? Do you have all the information a prospect needs to trust you and your organisation?
Does your website provide enough benefit to your prospect that they stop searching Google and stay with you?
Buyers seek education. They want to be ready by the time they talk to you. Are you educating them?
Action: Have a good hard look at your website, thinking of your customer and their journey. I bet you find 10 customer-centric changes in under 60 seconds.
Your individual page on your company website
A funny thing happens when you have your own staff page on your enterprise website. It gets clicks. Lots of clicks.
As HubSpot Platinum Partners, we see it over and over again. The team pages on our customers' sites are the second-most clicked, beaten only by the homepage.
People want to see and understand who they are doing business with. Your prospects are seeking trust. Seeing you on the web and understanding how you help them is vital.
If you don't have a page for you, get one. Importantly, make sure you give your personal staff page lots of love. Make your page interesting, engaging and helpful. People are looking for a reason to trust you and engage.
Talk about how your past experiences benefit the customer. What do you know that helps a potential prospect?
Hot Tip: Avoid talking about how great you think you are. In the same way that it's deemed boring at a social event, it is online as well.
Take a professional portrait
Professional photos are not expensive, yet they add plenty of value. Ditch the Facebook crop shot, and get a professional look that has you in a casual, relaxed pose.
Be human and show you are approachable. Make every effort to look like a friendly person. Remember, it's P2P; be a person, not a robot.
Bonus Tip: Take your best professional wear to the shoot and get a high-quality portrait shot. Use this photo for all of those social media profile pics you need these days. Looking sharp gives you more confidence.
Spruce up you LinkedIn profile
There is a tendency to set up your LinkedIn profile and forget it. Keep applying the love to your LinkedIn profile.
Use video, SlideShare, Pulse, portfolios, and frequent posts to enhance how your prospect sees your profile.
Add in your shiny new professional portrait and you will increase your online value.
Keep in mind who your target audience and how you want to be seen by them. Would you do business with you? Search out your profile flaws and fix them.
Be sure to speak in a language that helps the customer. You want them to easily find the benefits in what you are saying.
Action: Check your LinkedIn Profile right now. Be awesome – to your prospect.
Be curious; it's the new "ABC"
Legacy sales talks about "Always Be Closing," but times have changed. Good news is, "ABC" is still relevant, but with a slight change. In 2016, the ABC of sales is "Always Be Curious."
Curiosity is a powerful trait when trying to build rapport. The digital age hasn't killed rapport-building, it's just moved to the screen.
So how can you be curious in a digital world? Great salespeople are curious. They like to ask lots of questions to learn more about the prospect's challenges. Asking questions is important to building rapport, and to aid the discovery process.
Asking questions will always be super powerful and critical to the process. A wise sales master once reminded me, "Two Ears, one Mouth – use them in that ratio".
Building rapport is about being interested in your opportunity's challenges. But how do you do this when your prospects are behind a screen, not in front of you? Fortunately, ABC, Always Being Curious, in the Internet world is easier than you think.
Search out your prospects and find them online
Discover their Twitter handles; it's a great way to connect with new prospects. Use Twitter to favourite tweets, comment and retweet to show your interest in your prospect.
If your prospect is posting on LinkedIn, take the time to comment and like the conversation. It takes an effort to blog and publish. People love it when they are noticed, shared, commented and liked.
Learn about the challenges of your target market
Take the time to establish your prospect's persona. This will bring you into harmony with their daily challenges and prepares you on how to solve their problems. At the same time, learning more about your prospect's business. From there, you can provide content that helps your prospect.
95% of buyers chose a solution provider that “provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process”
[Source: DemandGen Report]
Be a teacher not a preacher
Your prospects are going to educate themselves on their challenges; the question is, are you going to be the teacher?
Work with your marketing team to develop specialised blogs, web pages, publications, Infographics, Webinars, videos, and case studies that match to the challenges of your buyer personas.
It's important to appreciate how your marketing team can have such a huge impact when working in harmony with sales.
Action point: Take your Marketing team out to lunch and brainstorm all of the digital assets that you can create to assist your prospects. Content marketing helps prospects make their decisions faster.
Providing digital help is now a currency for the rapport marketplace.
Add personalised content
Spam has buyers suspicious and unwilling to interact with your emails. You are on the back foot before you even start, so personalising and being specifically helpful is key.
Provide personalised content via your website pages and emails. Better still, create content that is consistent with the buyer's journey. This organically builds rapport.
Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%.
[Source: Aberdeen Group]
Using a tool like HubSpot allows you to personalise your web content. Create different content for different stages of the buying cycle.
Contextual marketing is an excellent way to build rapport with your future customers. Even without HubSpot, you can work on personalising your marketing and sales tools to better suit your buyer's needs.
Action point: Setup a Friday meeting with Sales and Marketing to refine what can be personalised. Work on one item each week and see if that makes a difference.
Show how you add value
Provide help to your customer. Give them the information they need to progress in their buyer's journey. Help your prospect with digital tools.
What are digital tools? Digital tools are processes that help your customer. They also provide you with feedback that can advance your understanding of their challenges.
70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems. 30% make decisions to gain something.
[Source: Impact Communications]
Consider tools such as blogs, e-books, webinars, checklists, slide decks, guides, case studies and infographics.
By having these digital assets, you can provide a valuable contribution to the process of discovery that your prospect is on.
Make sure your website is answering your customer's questions
List the top 100 questions your prospects have, then go make a webpage out of each one. Sounds crazy right? Not at all. Your customers are searching the web for answers. If you are not providing the answers, then your opposition will.
Action point: Do you have control of your website? Are you able to make pages, update your blog, create the measurable calls-to-action, and blog at will?
Selling has changed. Buyers have changed. Building rapport with your prospects has changed, but people are still people. Master the digital tools at your fingertips and you can get the Internet working for you.
Would you like to get a head start on your opposition? Sign up now for the free HubSpot Inbound Sales Certification and polish up your digital selling skills.