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Sales interview, Get the Customers Agenda, don't try to sell your own

Biggest problem faced by sales consultants today is that they fail to build the rapport with the customer. Yes they may sell the customer but they have failed to develop a friendship with them. Why is this important? Is it necessary to be the customers friend to sell them? Honestly no. But if you want to have an easier time closing the customer, and if you want the customer to remain loyal, you better do it. Most of sales consultants go straight into a sales pitch after the introduction. Pretty sure everyone here has gone to buy a car, and the sales person introduces himself then says, "Be right back let me grab the keys." They are skipping a key part of the sales process. The interview. They jumped from introduction to presentation.
So how do we build rapport with a customer? First off, it requires LISTENING. Not listening to respond, but listening to comprehend. Your sales agenda shouldn't even be present during the interview. The customer should be doing most of the talking. But how to get the customer to start talking about themselves? ASK!!!! People love to talk about themselves, so why not let them? Give them oppurtunities to talk about themselves. Some basic questions you can ask to start building rapport.

+What is your name?
+Where are you from?
+How long have you lived there?
+How's the family doing? (Never ask specifically about husband/wife/kids, keep it broad)
+You have any pets?
+What do you do for a living?
+Do you like to travel? If so where have you been?
+What do you do to relax?
+Are you in any organization or clubs?
+Favorite sports?

If you ask these 11 questions during the interview, not only do you get the customer to talk about themselves, I promise you, you will find things in common with them, which will put them more at ease. You have just become a friend after a 10-20 min customer interview, instead of someone trying to sell them something. Give it a try. See what happens!

thmbp2; sn; stcktng; cl2; - by jrboyd
I agree that establishing rapport is important but I think you need to approach it carefully and watch for signs of buy in. When I arrive in a prospects office I look for signs of personal things: golf awards, running bibs, kids pictures etc. Then I launch the rapport from a point of commonality based on what I see in the office and go from there. If the client engages then I continue as the path takes us. If the office is barren with no personal touches I tread lightly as this may be a very closed person and the "personal" rapport may actually hurt your case not help.

Establishing a warm connection is important step in building trust. But it must be done sincerely and cautiously as the pace that best suits your prospect. - by Kathy Hokunson
Good point Cathy. However you are talking about only 1 of the 4 personality profiles that people fall into. If you can recognize the personality profiles than you know not to use it. If you can't then your talking only about 25% of the people that you talk to will fall into that group. I was always taught to focus on the majority. If this works on 75% of your customers than use it. Don't worry about the 25% right now. - by jrboyd
You have just become a friend after a 10-20 min customer interview, instead of someone trying to sell them something.
I don't know about you but I do not wish to be friends with all of my prospects. I like people, don't get me wrong. But I don't like them all. And, given a choice, I would rather see if they have interest in what I am sellign then feature friendship and relationship building.

One of the best times to build, repor is AFTER you have established business respect. When a meeting is more or less over, a lot more transpires, because they like how you conducted yourself and see you as a professional.

There is nothing wrong with trying to sell a product or service. - by Gold Calling
I understand completely where you are coming from Gold. This is more of an industry specific sales tactic. Referalls are great in all types of sales, however in auto sales there is moer of a chance for referrals. Some products and services aren't benificial for everyone, however how many people do you know that drive a car? If you can make a friend out of most of your prospects than you will dramatically increase your referals. The average trade in cycle of a vehicle is 3-4 years, so if you can befriend a customer you can pretty much guarantee a purchase every 3 years + any referrals that they have as well. Thats why I believe that making a friend is more important than making a sale here. I've had customers that haven't bought from me still send referrals. - by jrboyd
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