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I meet so many fine people in my professional and personal travels, and one thing interesting always strikes me- nobody ever wants to admit to being a salesperson! The reasons are many, but the truth is no matter what our profession is, we are always “selling” ourselves, our products, and our services.

Being a good “salesperson” is not really about having the quickest one-liners, having a huge array of jokes, or even being the most talkative. It is about getting to know the person you are in front of. It is about really caring what the other person is saying. It is about building a relationship with the people you meet.

I thought I would share a few things that always helped me with building rapport and trust with a customer.

1. Be Mindful of Body Language and Tonality.

I believe the way a prospect communicates is extremely important. For instance, if they speak with a quieter tone, or talk slower than your normal pace, soften it up and slow it down to their pace. They are the most important person at that moment. Be one with them.

2. Find Commonality.

Create a conversation around other things other than just trying to sell something. I find people love to talk about things that they enjoy or things that are important to them. Their kids, sports, pets, homes, cars, movies, vacation spots, etc. The list goes on and on. Become genuinely interested in people.

3. Always Make the Person in Front of You Feel OK.

Avoid technical speak and “buzz words”. All of our industries have terminology that is very common to us, but not so much to others. If a customer doesn’t understand something or we are moving too quickly, then they are probably not feeling OK. Also, be generous with compliments, but don’t overdo them. Always be genuine. It always feels good to be complimented.

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions.

If the customer is interested in your product or service, ask good open-ended questions. Discover what is important to them and what problem they are trying to solve. I was once told, “people don’t care about how much you know until they know that you care”.

5. Listen, Listen, Listen (and Talk Less).

We have all heard that we need to actively listen. Be there in the moment- not daydreaming or thinking about what else needs to be done that day. When you ask good questions, really listen to what is being said. We have two ears and one mouth- use proportionately.

Dale Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. Make friends and build trust, and sales will follow.

Jim Falk

Estimator @ Nolan Painting

Business Consultant with Summit Services, Inc.

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