Q: Although I research my customers and prepare my presentations in advance, I find it difficult to close the sale. What am I doing wrong?
— Tyler W., Bonita Springs
A: Trust is the basis of any meaningful and lasting relationship. It doesn’t matter how good your presentation may be; if the person you are trying to convince doesn’t trust you, then you won’t sell them anything.
However, if you do have their trust, you can realistically expect a positive response more often than not.
There are four basic steps a person good at sales should follow to build rapport and ensure a favorable outcome:
Step 1: Mirror their body language
You must be a chameleon and adapt to your environment. Take note of your prospect’s posture, gestures, facial expressions, speech patterns and accent. If he or she talks fast, then so should you. People feel comfortable when they are around someone who looks, acts and sounds like them. You don’t want to appear to be mocking them, so be careful not to overdo it. This is a practiced art and the more you do it, the more natural it will become for you.
Step 2: Ask a question
Begin the process by asking a question that requires more than a yes or no answer. The goal is to get the prospect talking. You must engage in a conversation before you get down to business.
You want them to come to know you as a person. If they don’t trust you, there is no way they will buy from you. Once you hear some trigger words, use them as leverage to continue a conversation purely about their interest. An example would be if you hear that they like sports, get into a conversation about sports.
Step 3: Introduce whatever you are selling
At the appropriate time, discreetly bring up whatever it is you’re selling, intertwined with your conversation.
Learn how to make proper transitions and be careful with the way you reference it as you don’t want to set off their salesman alarm.
Your goal is to get them excited and to ask you questions about your product or service. If you have done your homework and understand the client’s needs, it shouldn’t be difficult to steer the conversation to how you may have the answers and solutions.
Step 4: The close
If you have followed steps 1 through 3 precisely, then by the time you are at step 4, you and the prospect should be having a productive conversation.
One of the most common mistakes someone in sales can make is failure to ask for the sale. In most cases it stems from a fear of rejection. You must learn to overcome this fear or begin to look for another line of work. Every customer experience has value.
If you fail to close the sale, ask yourself several questions. Did I talk too much and listen too little? What didn’t I say that could have made a difference? Someone good in sales thrives on successes and learns from their mistakes.
There are many other techniques involved in persuading someone, but as you can see, the core is about building rapport. Once you gain their trust, you are well on your way to a successful relationship.
To learn more about management issues facing your small business, contact the Naples Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business. There you will find more than 60 experienced volunteer business professionals. Counseling is provided free of charge to all U.S. citizens and legal aliens. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit Web site www.scorenaples.org/face-to-face-counseling.
The Naples SCORE business office is at 900 Goodlette-Frank Road N., in the Fifth Third Bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. If you would like an answer to your question, fill out the form located at http://tinyurl.com/askscore. A counselor will contact you within 48 hours. Please include your name, e-mail address and a contact phone number.