Why is connecting the most important skill in the sales profession? Because it is connecting that makes closing possible! People won’t follow you financially until they feel connected to you relationally. In traditional selling, the “deal” may be the reason for the transaction but in relationship selling, the relationship is critical to the transaction. Without a developed ability to connect, you cannot set appointments, build trust, strengthen relationships, or close the sale. Connection is the invisible currency that makes closing the sale possible!
A healthy customer connection is an aura of invisible energy between two or more people working in harmony to create rapport. Connection is an emotional energy that may not always be seen but is always felt. You know it in your gut. Being able to successfully connect with a buyer or seller can mean the difference between a successful sale or no sale at all.
Here are a few examples that depict how connecting is critical to closing the sale:
1. Buy-In makes buying possible!
The first thing a client must buy is you! Until a client buys into you, they won’t buy into your presentation or believe in your ability to serve their needs. When the client buys into you, they will buy into what you are saying because you have established trust. Establishing trust becomes the revenue-maker or sales-breaker. Trust always precedes the transaction. The sale of the person will always precede the sale of the service. Once people buy into what you are saying, they will buy what you are selling.
2. Connecting comes before Closing!
Until a client connects emotionally with the SalesMaker, they won’t commit to the listing or home purchase. With almost three decades in sales, I have worked with companies that have thousands of salespeople and small offices with just a few. One truism for decision makers of every type is consistent, if they don’t connect with you, they won’t buy from you. There is simply too much choice and competition in the marketplace for a client to hassle with someone with whom they can’t make a connection. Whether you’re working on a listing or a sale, with consumers or investors, creating rapport, connection, and a relationship is crucial to closing the sale. It doesn’t matter if decision makers are making decisions for their family or choosing an investment property, the first connection should be between the SalesMaker and the client. It should not be about the cost, features, or value proposition of the property.
3. Relationships lead to Revenue!
Relationship precedes revenue and connecting emotionally comes before closing financially. You will always struggle to move a client financially until they are connected to you emotionally. If you try to close a customer financially before connecting emotionally, you will encounter resistance. But when you connect with clients emotionally first, getting them to follow you in order to advance the listing or sale becomes much easier. If you have ever felt a client resisting you early on in a sales call, it may have been because you were trying to close financially before you connected emotionally. Connecting on common ground or relevant ground (their needs) is a quick connect strategy you can benefit from.
4. Relationship Breaks the Tie!
When all things are equal between two competitors, having a strong connection and relationship with a client can break the tie. When all things are NOT equal, relationship still breaks the tie. In today’s hyper-competitive environment where choices are endless, often the only competitive advantage a SalesMaker will have is their level of connection with their clients. Having a strong connection is the one differentiating factor that will always weigh in the SalesMakers’ favor even when all other factors are equal.
No matter where you are starting from, you can increase your connecting and relationship- building skills. If you’re new to sales, great, you probably don’t have any bad habits to overcome. If you’ve been in sales a while but are not experiencing the level of success you want, it may be time to analyze how well you are connecting with clients. Without connection, the SalesMaker’s ability to influence the direction of the sale is moot. When I started in the sales profession, I had to learn by trial and error how to connect and forge relationships with customers with whom I had little in common.
If you are new to sales, this can be both intimidating and overwhelming. Every SalesMaker will face headwinds when attempting to connect with customers. For me, I had to face a number of headwinds. At the start, I was in my early twenties and new to sales, while my customers were forty-something business owners. My customers needed expert industry advice, but I was still learning. They had years of life experience and I was inexperienced. The difference between their life experience and mine was enormous.
How did I overcome these headwinds and cross the chasm of years, experience, and age to connect with my customers? The answers to these questions may surprise you! I worked hard to find common ground with them. Reaching common ground with a customer is not an issue of years, experience, or age, but an issue of heart. I listened with my ears, my mind and my heart. I was well-prepared for each contact and admitted when I did not know the answer to questions asked. I acted quickly and confidently on every question or request by potential clients. I leaned-in to their wants, needs, and concerns and did my best to understand their values. My focus was on aligning my services to their needs, not the other way around: trying to shape their needs to my product. Through this practice, I created trusting connections that grew into beneficial relationships on both sides of the equation.
There are common threads of emotional connection and shared interest that bind people together. A SalesMaker who can tap into these will discover strategies that can help them fast track the connecting process. These connecting strategies can help the SalesMaker collapse the distance that exists between them and the customer and replace it with a bridge that points the path to not just closing another sale but building a new relationship. When we don’t value what the customer values, it is the same as devaluing them. You’ll never connect with someone who feels you are devaluing something they value. When you learn to forge new and deeper connections with your customers, you will be well on your way to greater sales and more meaningful relationships.