“What Do I Say First?” How To Quickly Establish Rapport On A Sales Call

The first few seconds of a sales call are crucial — here’s how to make the most of them...

6th October 2016Leigh Ashton
sales call

Before we start, let’s make it clear that this blog is NOT about Cold Calling. That’s another story!

What we’re focusing on here is how to follow up with someone that you’ve either met at an event, started a relationship online with or to reconnect with a lapsed customer.

Even these follow up sales calls are a challenge for many people — and I get that! It can be really awkward, and even a bit scary to get on the phone with someone you don’t know well or haven’t connected with for some time…especially if you’re not all that comfortable with sales to begin with. The good news is that if you start the call off well, it’s much easier. Here’s how to do it:


Start out with chit chat

One thing many small business owners forget is that the person you’re on the phone with may be feeling awkward too. So start off with some casual chit chat to break the ice — remember, you’re trying to build rapport, so stick with open questions, and really listen to what the other person is saying. Just one thing to remember: do not talk about you or what you’re selling in the early part of the conversation. This is time for you to find out about them; you’ll have your time to tell them about your products or services later.


Then transition the conversation

After you’ve had a few minutes of conversation, take the lead and shift the focus of conversation to sales. This can be something very simple and subtle — any open question that brings the conversation around to the topic you want to talk about and how it impacts the person you’re chatting with is great. People love to chat about themselves and their situation, so let them, and listen.


For example…

Let’s make this a little more concrete. You know you’re supposed to be using open questions (questions without a yes or no answer), and if you can include a question that starts with a “what” and includes a “you”, that’s even better! So things like “What have you tried to fix this problem before?” or “What kinds of results would you like to see with XYZ issue?” are great. Do make sure to avoid questions that start with “why” — they come across poorly, make people feel defensive, and usually destroy the rapport you’re building up. (More on this here.)


Let their response guide the conversation

As they respond to your question, really listen to what they’re saying. You want to not only hear what they’re saying on the surface, but also look for clues to their map, their action preferences, and any information that can help you further your rapport with them. Doing this will give you a good sense of where the conversation should go next — so even if you’ve prepared a list of questions to ask them, you need to make sure that the next things you say relate to their responses. This will maintain the rapport, show them that you really are listening to them, and help you personalise your offer for them.


Until next time


Leigh xx


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