Is Rapport Building/Investigation The Most Important Step in the Sales Process?
“Her” my client said. “She is my ideal customer, and I need to find the right way to start the conversation with her to show her my services”. I was sitting in a popular Austin restaurant with one of my clients, and he made this observation in the middle of a conversation about getting him more clients.
That brought forth a thorny question:
Every business owner knows that they need to get in front of the right prospects, but how?
I think this is a commonly held belief among business owners (“if I could just get in front of the right person/people/gerbils then they would buy my stuff”).
It’s partially true, but it can drive you nuts.
You find yourself burning a lot of energy throwing different efforts at “getting in front of” prospects, and feel frustrated when SEO, Social Media Marketing, Blogging and other tactics fail (especially if they came with a lot of promises from a fast talking salesperson).
What’s the solution?
I explained to him, and I’ll pass on to you, that this is exactly the wrong way to think about your sales process. There is one key element that few business owners get right.
Think you might know what it is? Let’s see.
First, a question:
Does Your Website Get The Sales Process Right?
Fact #1: If you do your job right in the sales process on your website, prospective customers will be knocking on your door to ask to buy your product or service.
Little to no closing will be required, and they will have high loyalty and repurchase/upsale rates.
Identity is the key.
You must create your copy in such a way that it reveals your service as the perfect solution to their problem.
NOTE: I did not say that it talks them into this concept, but rather reveals it to already be true.
If this is true, then you’re not for everyone, right? This is a key truth that most business owners (and the vast majority of sales people) miss;
YOU’RE NOT FOR EVERYONE.
Rather, you’re the right solution for a select, carefully defined person with a clearly identifiable need.
Step 2 of the 5 Steps of the Sale is Rapport Building/Investigation, and I combine the two into one step because if you don’t, the step doesn’t work as well.
Build Rapport by itself, and you might gain a friend, but you never move closer to a sale.
Investigation alone can leave a prospect feeling cold and distant.
Together, you have a powerful tool that gives the prospect permission to say they are not the right fit for you, and then to leave your website (which is exactly what you want).
OR, that prospect identifies with your content marketing efforts and the solutions you present to their problems, and responds by clicking further into your sales process.
What is Hard Selling?
Hard selling happens when one of these two, or both, is not present: clearly defined need and clearly defined solution. Elucidating both is your job; don’t do it, and you’re hard selling. Boo.
PIVOT POINT: If you’re not solving big problems, go do find one to solve. The bigger the problem you solve, the bigger difference you make in your sphere of influence, and by extension, in the sphere of influence of the people you serve.
When you are solving a big problem, identity is easy. You also tend to be dealing with less direct competition (generally, if lots of people are solving a problem, then it’s probably not as big as it once was), which means your margins are bigger.
PIVOT POINT: If you’re not solving big problems, go do find one to solve.
The bigger the problem you solve, the bigger difference you make in your sphere of influence, and by extension, the sphere of influence of the people you serve.
When you’re solving a big problem, customer identity is easy.
There also tends to be less direct competition (generally, if lots of people are solving a problem, then it’s probably not as big as it once was), which means your margins are bigger.
Now, back to our conversation in the restaurant.
Sitting with my same client, I asked the question “What problem do you solve for your prospective customer?”.
His answer was a blank stare, then a couple of stabs at an answer. Once we arrived at something reasonably useful, I asked “Do you talk about that when you’re talking about your business?”. The obvious answer was no. Why?
First, don’t take my tone as condescending, because it’s not intended to be so. Messaging is difficult, and that’s because it’s so difficult to get outside of our own headspace and the way we think about things.
Our business is no different. We hope people ask the right questions, but we have no way to guide them to do so. What to do?
Offer Solutions in your Sales Process: Let the Prospect Choose Yes or No
Offering a solution is far superior to “trying to sell”. It removes the pressure, for a couple of reasons. First, you’re not trying to “shoehorn” someone into something they may not want to do. This is hard selling, and if you’re hard selling, you’re not doing your job.
(If you’ve every sat down with a slick Austin SEO Salesperson, you probably know what “Trying to Sell” looks like!)
Your ideal path to success lies in putting out efforts that cause people to self-identify as your ideal client, metaphorically raising their hand and saying “I’m interested; I want that! How can I buy it? Shut up and take my money!”. Do your job right, and exactly that will happen.
Summary: The Value of Rapport Building/Investigation in your Sales Process
In summary, the most beneficial work you can do for your business is identity in three phases (that’s for another blog post):
- Identify your customer
- Help your prospect self-identify as your customer
- Identify your service as the solution for your soon-to-be customer’s problem
Build Rapport and Investigate with your Content Marketing, and you’ll succeed.