Home > Approach > young salesman building rapport with older prospects

young salesman building rapport with older prospects

hi guys.

as a 23 year old in the sales industry, I find it difficult to be friendly with older folks who are 30+. not that they are strange or anything, but i find that after meeting someone who is older than me, I find it hard to make conversation with my older prospects a second time.... i don't know what or how to say things

in my opinion saying things like "oh how's the kids" or "how's work" is very corny and doesn't feel genuine

can someone give some food for thought?

thanks - by royale11
If you aren't already - keep your communication professional, respectful and not too familiar. - by BossMan
hi guys.

as a 23 year old in the sales industry, I find it difficult to be friendly with older folks who are 30+. not that they are strange or anything, but i find that after meeting someone who is older than me, I find it hard to make conversation with my older prospects a second time.... i don't know what or how to say things

in my opinion saying things like "oh how's the kids" or "how's work" is very corny and doesn't feel genuine

can someone give some food for thought?

thanks

While I have never run into this as an age related thing per se, I have run into this difficulty based more on knowledge or experience. That is to say, I had difficulty talking with a customer when I felt they had more knowledge or experience, or at least they felt they had more knowledge or experience than I did.

I find the "I need your opinion" angle works well here. I play a Colombo role, asking the customer their thoughts on the product, giving an affirming "good point" or "Hmmm" with every concern they raise, then explaining how that point is taken car of, or getting out "the book" and looking it up (even if I know the answer). It's funny how many people will sell themselves your product!

Wear the Right Hat!
Bill - by Bill_Kistner
...in my opinion saying things like "oh how's the kids" or "how's work" is very corny and doesn't feel genuine

can someone give some food for thought?
Instead of general or personal chit chat how about something like... Last time we talked you were going to the XXX convention - how did that work out for you? (or) Last time we talked you said you were trying a new XXX - what was the outcome? - by Liberty
thanks for the replies. you guys are awesome! :) - by royale11
royale11,

Just think of what a young doctor would say to an older patient.

Some thing like, "Good morning Sir. Undress and lie down on that examination bed."

Essentially there is no small talk. Serious buyers don't even expect small talk. They have things to do, and want to restrict the small talk to people who are in their Inner Circles.

Also, your lead nurturing system can prime your prospects, so they know what to expect. You can educate prospects that you don't do rapport stuff.

Before we meet, I educate my prospects about the process of the meeting. And I request them to show up with all their documents and a $5,000 cheque filled in and signed.

Then at the end of the hour meeting, there is a yes/no decision. If yes, I take the check and we start. If no, prospects take their cheques and we leave.

And...

Prospects know that if they play the "I have to think about it" card on me, I take the cheque and they can think until the cows come home.

But prospects know these criteria even before the meeting.

Remember, you're an expert at sorting out the kind of mess your prospect has created. Regardless of age. - by Bald Dog
Bill,

Very well put.thmbp2; In all circumstance we can either be equal to, superior or inferior. Depending on the circumstance one will always be more advantagous than the other two. I remember the first day I was door knocking I knocked on a door of an older reitred man. I told him what I was selling and asked if he was interested. He told me right away he was not interested but offered some gems of wisdom. You see he spent 40 years in the same profesion I was just entering. I spent about a half an hour talking to one person whom I knew was not going to buy from me. The thing is he shared information with me that my broker never told me, that helped me close other deals. He is now on my Christmas card list and he has give me two referals since I first met him. My favorite clients are older people because I find them to be more at a stage in life where they are more willing to help someone instead of closer to that teenage part of our lives where we think we know it all.

Cheers,

J- - by Jorel
At age 20, I sold my way into a sales job with one of the leading manufacturers of forklift trucks. That was 51 years ago. I got two weeks of product training and a product catalog, and I hit the streets.

Back then, hardly anyone did cold calling. It was all walk-in prospecting. Being young and energetic, I was able to walk into an average of 32 businesses a day.

When I met a prospect I would start out by saying, "I need your help."

Each day, an average of 11 of them said, "How can I help you"?

Then, I told them that it was my first sales job and I needed to know how people who buy forklift trucks make the decision about which manufacturer’s forklift trucks to buy.

About half of them took the time to explain how they made their buying decisions and most of them advised me on how to sell. I took notes on everything they told me.

Almost 1 percent of them bought forklift trucks from me - and some of them bought more than one. Since I visited with an average of 5.5 per day, I was able to sell 8 forklifts in my first 6 months.

After the first few months, I had stopped asking those kinds of questions. Then, I used what I had learned from all of those prospects and customers in my prospecting and selling, and my sales gradually accelerated.

By the end of my first year, I was one of the top 40% of salespeople for that company in the USA, and the youngest. And, I had so much experience talking to business owners and managers that I seldom felt any discomfort. - by JacquesWerth
I'm now dealing with older prospects and feel more comfortable with them. I feel when i speak to them, we speak on a business level, not as a elder to a younger.

thanks guys for your helpful inputs!!! i luv you all :) - by royale11
Many people were in your position at one point or another (even your prospects) and a handful of them will actually be pulling for you because of that fact.

As others have stated, small talk is a bad idea for building rapport. The best way to build rapport is to show them value and help them succeed. Connect with what they are personally trying to accomplish by using your product/service. Flimsy chit-chat will be seen for what it is.

I started my professional sales career as a 19 year old selling solutions to upper management and executives. It took me a long time to get over the "they won't want to buy from a baby-faced salesman". As I developed my skills and expertise it got easier and easier. I still feel like a circus attraction sometimes when I walk into a board room, but now I get a sense of accomplishment out of it because when I open my mouth and start conversations they get real value out of the interaction.

Stick with it! Before long you'll be one of those "old people"!

Justyn - by Justyn
Weekly Updates!
Questions and Answers about Selling
Subscribe to our mailing list to get threads and posts sent to your email address weekly - Free of Charge.