Home > Personal Selling > How do YOU build the BtoB bond?

How do YOU build the BtoB bond?

What are some of the things YOU do to initiate the first bonding and rapport with prospects that either come in warm or are tracked down cold?

It seams no other step in the sales process can be completed without a good rapport and trust developed. I always find it that I sometimes just get along great with some folks and sometimes I don't.

Help? - by waitrainer
Regardless what type of sales you do, rapport is something definitely required. The trick to building good rapport is to put the sale on the back burner. The first 5 or 10 minutes I spend with a customer, I'm not even trying to sell them a vehicle. I am trying to get the customer to talk about themselves. Asking them questions to get them talking.

Important note: For a Driver personality style this is not deemed a good thing. He will feel it as unproffessional.

Remember one important thing. Chances are your not the first salesperson they meet. So what are you going to do to stand out above the rest of the salesperson? - by jrboyd
Though I am no expert when it comes to B2B sales, my understanding is that it is not as much about openers and rapport with B2B as it is about asking questions that explore their business problems and repercussions of those problems since you are there as a business consultant. At least according to Neil Rackham's Spin Selling.

I'm sure you'll get some great examples of how to do with your specific industry from B2B experts here. - by Tony_B
Executives are extremely busy and don't have time for idle chit-chat so spending time getting them to talk about themselves is not appropriate.

In a B2B situation you can quickly build rapport by demonstrating your knowledge and/or understanding of your potential challenges your prospect is experiencing. This is accomplished through pre-call research. Let's say for example you sell incentives...when you first meet with a new prospect you could say,

"Mr. Prospect, our experience has shown that the majority of companies who go through a merger experience a serious decline in employee productivity. How is the merger that you are currently working affecting morale and productivity in your company?"

You will catch their attention quickly by demonstating your expertise without even talking about your product or services and this leads to rapport.

I trust this helps. - by Kelley Robertson
The type of B2B product I sell requires that I spend time with the client to "build rapport". The first appointment could last fifteen minutes or it could last an hour. That time is spent asking probing questions and listening. It is a very relaxed and open time while the client is telling me his/her past accomplishments, presents challenges and future dreams for their business. I am going to disagree with Kelly in that, most business people love talking about their business and they especially enjoy having someone to listen. If you are respectful of the clients time they will usually give you as much as you need to get the information it takes to make them happy. That is the only way you can offer the client what they want and if you can't give the client what they want you certainly can't create a bond.

So, the first thing I do to create a bond, is spend some time with the client, ask questions, listen and then offer what is best for the client based on what he has told me in our conversations. - by MPrince
I agree with Mary/Martha here as well.... Business Owners will certainly discuss their business with you.

Aloha... ;bg shds; - by rattus58
I agree with both Martha and Kelly. Getting them to talk about their business and asking questions is very different than idle chitchat. I want someone selling to me to spend the time they need to get to know my needs and to be able to offer the correct solution. But I have a very busy schedule, as do most executives today, and time is a precious commodity. Your style should depend on what you are selling, your personality and most importantly, the clients style. - by GerryMyers
Gerry, you say you want one "selling to me to spend the time they need to get to know my needs and to be able to offer the correct solution. But I have a very busy schedule, as do most executives today, and time is a precious commodity. Your style should depend on what you are selling, your personality and most importantly, the clients style."

You are very busy, but want one to be able to offer you the correct solution. In YOUR situation what EXACTLY would you expect from the salesman approaching you say for Critical Illness Insurance, which is a lump sum paid to you for up to for up three separate serious illnesses like heart attack, stroke, cancer, by-pass, Advanced Altheimers (sp?) etc to offset the added expesnes we incur for recovery from these illnesses?

Much Aloha, ;bg shds; - by rattus58
I like to look for a "common ground". Once you find that, you are beginning to build rapport and are on your way. Just look around, there is bound to something you can find that you have in common. It works! - by The Dynamic Business
Though I am no expert when it comes to B2B sales, my understanding is that it is not as much about openers and rapport with B2B as it is about asking questions that explore their business problems and repercussions of those problems since you are there as a business consultant. At least according to Neil Rackham's Spin Selling.
Neil, of course, learned his sales skills from Xerox, which put an interesting spin (pun intended) on what he came up with when he quantified selling by sending psychologists along as witnesses to chart an unprecedented 36,000 sales interviews!

This fact is overlooked by many who consider sales schools, trying to figure out who has it closest to bang on in terms of sales training courses and information, or who to read to learn sales. Huthwaite, which is the organization Neil started and sold, have all kinds of takes on the numbers they have to work with, some interesting interpretations - a few good and a few that I feel are not so good.

I think Kelley had an interesting post - the one after the one quoted above.

What I wanted to say - other than the bit on Neil/Huthwaite/SPIN and Xerox - is that all selling is the same in B2B and B2C in as much as you must ask questions to find out needs/wants/desires/pain. This (probing) is not necessarily more prevalent in B2B than B2C ... the questioning or probing part, I mean.

It is also not necessarily correct to say that all Execs are busy or busier and that they therefore don't expect or benefit from the building of rapport. Each selling situation is different.

I couple of months ago I spent an hour and a half with the V.P. of Sales of a company. Today I was there for 42 minutes - same amount of material to cover, different type of exec. And, if I had to guess, without any additional research, I would say that neither of these two men were less important to their repesctive employers - in all likelihood, they both achieve to the same degree (both are exceedingly intellegent and have a knack for staying on point).

In November I gained access via telephone with the Worldwide President of GE Energy, he spent 51 minutes with me (I log calls & remember this one vividly). This guy runs a 34 billion division of a 180 billion dollar company, the man is an achiever.

Of these three examples, if we had to quantify them, realizing they are not enough to draw any real scientific conclusions from, they would indicate that are Execs were/are different. And, if you like people, as I hope you do, I would say that the way you strike rapport is the same - we feed off the people in front of us.

If the person is open they will talk. Give you an example of a guy I have coached, he is the President of a company in Canada that does business worldwide. He went in to see the President of another company, this guy likes and collects cars. My client spent 30 minutes talkign cars with this man, not a word of business and this is a $100 million company. The guy is busy, trust me. My take? My client sensed the guy liked a topic and they went nuts talkign about it, he won him over even before he talked about what he does - and, yes, he got the engineering contract!

A friend of mine sold tires part time on Saturdays for 12 years at Blaskin & Laine in Calgary. He used to tell me storries about going up to help a customer, saying "Hi, beautiful day, isn't it?" Only to recieve nothing but a grunt back. In other words, the average tire buyer was less personable and wanted less "rapport building" than any of the B2B examples above.

Mission Impossible; your job, if you choose to accept it, is to walk into selling situations without over generalyzations, realizing fully that every person is different, knowing that every buyer needs value to make a decision, be that in complex B2B or simple B2C situatons - to treat everyone the same and adapt as the call progresses. Ask questions (probe) ... find out what they need, show them how they can get it from what you sell and, if you can, strike a rapport with them - if you follow this simplifief advice you will make more money, receive more accolades at work and from colleagues and make more friends.

If you generalize, you will miss opportunities in both categories. This is my opinion.

Best of luck. - by Gold Calling
Neil, of course, learned his sales skills form Xerox, which put an interesting spin (pun intended) on what he came up with when he quantified selling by sending psychologists along as witnesses to chart an unprecedented 36,000 sales interviews!...

...Mission Impossible; your job, if you choose to accept it, is to walk into selling situations without over generalyzations, realizing fully that every person is different, knowing that every buyer needs value to make a decision, be that in complex B2B or simple B2C situatons - to treat everyone the same and adapt as the call progresses. Ask questions (probe) ... find out what they need, show them how they can get it from what you sell and, if you can, strike a rapport with them - if you follow this simplifief advice you will make more money, receive more accolades at work and from colleagues and make more friends.

If you generalize, you will miss opportunities in both categories. This is my opinion.

Best of luck.
If I could give rep points I would surely give them for your post but alas I am still but a simple junior member without an avatar face. ;wi

I think Neil minimizes his focus on openers and rapport because "every call does that anyway." but one should not take the subject or step in the process lightly.

Thanks G! - by Tony_B
I think Neil minimizes his focus on openers and rapport because "every call does that anyway" but one should not take the subject or step in the process lightly.
Yes, Neil certainly knows sales but, remember, he is not a sales person. He did not study Edwards on closing and core values, Burke on prospecting (not me, my dad) and many of the other masters. He gathered information about sales from Xerox, straight out of PSS (this was the course I became the youngest ever to pass at 17 in 1977), some of which was written to inspire.

Edwards said "the first person to speak looses!" Even though this man was probably the best that ever lived on prospecting, today - right in this forum - some have cut that expression (and therefore the man) up, misinterpreting why he choose those words = for affect.

To some degree Rackham did the same. He took the PSS info about Skepticism and published that he had proven it wrong with quantified data, saying that there is no proof that when skepticism is evident that the deal is more likely to close. Sure, but in comparison to what? Not in comparison to INDIFFERENCE (the hardest attitude to deal with in sales), that is for certain.

What he missed was the point that Xerox was making, if they were not skeptical they would be indifferent. In other words, they would not care. And thus this attitude shows the prospect cares about whatever improvement you can bring them, you've just got to prove it. That is tough but doable. But the point is, if the course did not indicate that this was a good thing, sales people would be ready to give up = this was done for affect!

If we set about to prove comments originally made to emphasize points (stated above as "for affect") are not valid, we simply over analyzed the teachings and, in the end, would've really proven nothing at all, right? Having said this, Neil is the only one who took opinion out of sales training, making it fact instead. Without this important work - no matter how much he got mislead through being full of his own self importance (or whatever) - sales could still be argued on opinion as not being about what it actual is; telling is not selling (that people buy value). And even though the masters knew this for eons, those that would misinform cannot get away with it any longer, opinion no longer matters.

We are now armed with proof that we need to know to ask questions so that we may understand the needs/wants/desires of prospects ... knowing we then show prospects how to get what those things or import are from what we offer. All this means is we need not debate what selling is, as it has been proven - not that it changed anything.

It does mean that the NEW AGE SELLING concepts are unproven and debunked - so consider the source ... is it opinion or fact?

Getting back to the subject, it is clearly incorrect to assume that people are different because they work in a business, making friends or building rapport is the same as in B2C. It is also a misconception that Execs are too busy or less interested in you personally, they do take a lot from you about whether they want to deal with your company, trust me. And a lot of this thing we now call relationship building happens throughout the call, not necessarily as a preamble or "chit chat".

As an example; if you were considering buying from me and I looked you in the eye and said "Don't worry [with a quick grin and a short pause], I'll look after you!" How can that be suggested to be more likely a rapport building technique best suited to B2B rather than B2C selling or the other way around?

Great topic! - by Gold Calling
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