B2B Sales Tips – Gaining Rapport on the Phone

Since every b2b sales person I know has to use the phone to contact prospects and customer on a daily basis, I thought it would be an excellent idea to share an important b2b sales tips regarding gaining rapport with only your voice.

Yes, you can gain rapport using your voice as the primary tool. In fact, if you choose to ignore this advice today – well, good luck in your b2b sales efforts because you will truly need luck. If you have no rapport with a prospect or customer, you are limiting your level of trust building with these people. So, as the DI Sargent says to the soldier – Pay Attention or Lose it!!

Enough of the jokes and stuff, here is the key to gaining rapport on the phone – voice matching.

Voice matching is something I see often from the sales superstars. Most of the time, they do not even realize they are voice matching. In fact, they tell me their discovered certain things worked and other things did not work. Now, it is your choice to learn about what I’m about to share to speed up the process, or you can do the trial and error method until you get there on your own. Your choice.

Okay, first lets talk about voice matching – how do you learn to match another’s voice? It is really simple, yet, you must be focused to make it work.

First thing is listening to the prospect or customer as they speak. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a couple of open ended questions ready to ask in order to hear the person speak. Then, as they speak you respond by matching their speed and volume. If you are naturally the opposite, this can be an issue unless you practice speaking at different speeds and volume.

Look, I’m naturally a slow speed speaker (from the South) and loud in volume. Yet, I have trained myself to speed up for my Northeastern clients who speak at super sonic speeds and I have learned to speak softly with financial, HR, and R & D types – as well as some operational managers. You see the key is to know you will need to flex your delivery to the person you are talking with if you want to be more successful.

I have seen people stay in their voice patterns and ignore the speed and pace of the prospect or customer, and watch them create issue after issue for themselves just because they don’t want to flex or are unwilling to flex. Again, it is their mistake because 75% of people will be different from you. That is a statistical fact.

Sorry about the preaching, it is just a very important topic and I’m amazed at how many people ignore this factor in their sales efforts. Let’s get back to the meat of the subject – gaining rapport.

As you match the speed and volume of the prospect or customer, begin to make notes of their key phrases or words they use. Write down in your notepad so you will be able to repeat them back to the prospect or customer. This is important – rephrasing what they say is wrong – you repeat the exact words and phrases they are using. Why? Because the words they use having extra meaning to them. It is their trigger point so they understand it and must prospects are looking for b2b sales people who truly understand them.

When you use the exact words, you have moved into their arena or sandbox so they will be more open to dialoguing about issues, problems and opportunities. No rapport means no open or real dialogue as you will only get “corporate speak.”

Oh, yes, forgot to mention what are real points or words to write down? Use the emotionally charged phrases or words. These phrases have more energy behind them and are usually personal to the prospect. Sometimes these phrases are a little off color or laced with some four letter words. Do not despair just listen and write down the other emotional words and phrases. They are the causes to keeping this person up at night or at the very least – worrying about their job.

Here are four additional points for you during a phone conversation with a prospect or customer.

  • Make a Mental Picture of the Prospect or Customer
    This is obviously easier when you have met the person, yet, in some cases you have not met. Google the company and the name to see if a photo is available. Many customer databases allow photos or pictures to be stored in their file. At a minimum, print out a copy of the photo and place in a file folder. By seeing the person in your mind’s eye, it becomes a personal exchange of information.
  • Clear your Mind of Chatter or Internal Talk
    This is big with almost everyone. The internal chatter going on in your head keeps you from hearing everything you need to hear. Pay attention as your b2b sales success will depend upon what you hear more often than what you say (or what you didn’t hear due to self talk). Say focused on everything a prospect or customer says.
  • Keep a Steady Emotional State
    Remain calm and in control of your emotional state during the entire phone call. Avoid getting emotional and responding defensively to a comment. Any lost of emotional control with place the b2b sales opportunity at risk.
  • Know Your Purpose in the Call and Stay Focused
    This is always important. Having a call objective in mind will keep you on track regarding the direction and flow of the dialogue. Now if it is an incoming call from a customer, you still need to quickly figure out what is their purpose – agree with their purpose if possible – and then advance your purpose or cause with them. Just like any negotiation – it is a give and take situation.

In summary, it is important to gain rapport with everyone you contact. When using the phone while talking with a prospect or customer, first listen and then match their pace and volume as quickly as possible. ( One quick extra – if the customer is hostile and loud it is best to hold your ground one notch below the other person, speak firmly yet with empathy and understanding to their situation. If you become to soft, they may take the bully route and attempt to force to into something you cannot or will not do. Let them vent their frustration and eventually take back control of the conversation.) The other points help you remain calm and confident – which is exactly what the prospect or customer wants.

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Voss Graham

Sr Business Advisor / CEO at InnerActive Consulting Group Inc
Your Knowledgeable Partner for Business Success and Achievement. Dedicated to helping others get to their next level of success. Award winning business advisor; coach to executives and business owners; Business Growth Strategist; and experienced using assessments for hiring & selection, evaluation of teams and improving communication. Voss is available as a Speaker for your conferences or company meetings contact him at 901-757-4434 or use the LinkedIn or Facebook direct messages.

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