A guest post about selling skills from Len Foster of Reaching New Heights

When using selling skills to engage customers it’s important to make sure they don’t feel ‘told to’ or even worse ‘sold to’. Everybody likes to buy but nobody likes to be sold to. When an assistant approaches you as you enter a shop, your barriers are already on the way up to counter the inevitable ‘can I help you’, which we hear as ‘can I sell you something’.

Consider this, the next time you go to meet a prospect. Never, ever, ever present your product or service before you have built rapport. Learning selling skills to engage customers means thinking differently right from the first contact. 

Most people tell you to build rapport but unfortunately they usually fail to tell you how to do it. The result is generally a swift (mostly one way) conversation about football, men, women, holidays, cars or the weather. Upon completion of this 20 second attempt at rapport building the product or service is, wrongly, offered.

How to create rapport
One of the first rules of creating rapport is to make yourself attractive to the other person. Not in a sexual way and it doesn’t matter if the other person is male or female either! 

A very easy way of making yourself attractive is to simply ‘smile’. Smiling along with eye contact can have a profound effect on other people. So much so that it draws them to you, which makes the initial conversation much easier for you. 

You will also create rapport much quicker and easier if you encourage others to talk about themselves. Then do something that 90% of people don’t do; ‘listen’. 

Jumble the letters up of listen and you get the word ‘silent’ so listen silently. Avoid finding commonality with them and then taking over the conversation. For example, if you ask where they went on holiday last year and they say France, don’t proceed to tell them all about the time you went to France and what you saw and did. That’s how not to use selling skills to engage customers!

Talk about their interests not yours. If you do this you will very quickly be talking their language. You can easily find out what their interests or challenges are by just asking them. And when they tell you they are very busy and rushing to meet deadlines, talk about how you either are or have been in that position as well. The quicker you can establish you are like them the better, because people like people that are like them. 

Dale Carnegie
As you can imagine there are many, many other ways to use selling skills to engage customers. However, this is a blog post not a book. I’ll just leave you with this: 

“You’ll make more friends in a short time by being interested in others than you will in a lifetime by of trying to get them to be interested in you,” Dale Carnegie

Go out into the marketplace and make friends because people buy from people they like. Don’t set out to ‘sell on sight’, simply make friends first and you’ll get much better results.

About Len Foster
Len Foster is the regional director of Reaching New Heights. He runs a one day workshop that provides sales training for non sales people, business start-ups and franchise owners. Attendees learn the full six stages of the sales process. Reaching New Heights also provide in house sales training and business coaching for SMEs. Contact Len on 01782 580595 or email or find out about his events here.

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