Connect Better To Sell Better

Deepen Rapport In Your Sales Presentations
by Bill Cole, MS, MA

   Last month we learned how important it is to build customer rapport and connection before your sales presentation. You now know how to mentally prepare both yourself and your audience, far before either of you ever show up. You want to create a favorable mind set for everyone that takes your presentation into the zone right at the beginning. Your pre-program preparation makes you feel more secure about your presentation. Your audience notices this and feels confident that you know what you are doing. Hence, they relax and you create rapport.
   Let's turn our attention to what you can do during your presentation to continue and deepen the wonderful rapport you've built in advance.

Ten Presentation Blunders That Hurt Rapport

   Unfortunately, many salespeople commit one or more of these ten speaking sins during a sales presentation and thereby alienate people and cause unnecessary stress in their audiences. They unknowingly self-sabotage and derail rapport by:

  • Being too focused on their words.
  • Being too focused on themselves.
  • Showing so much stress and tension the audience becomes ill-at-ease.
  • Using negative words and images.
  • Complaining about or denigrating the competition.
  • Forgetting the names of key audience members.
  • Getting lost in their heads trying to remember their pitch.
  • Using canned presentations that don't connect with the customer.
  • Crafting presentations that are too busy and crowded.
  • Being afraid of having customers ask questions.

   All these performance errors kill rapport and connection with your audience. Fortunately, all are correctable. What should you do to prevent these problems and continue to improve the all-important rapport with your customers?

Be An Audience-Centered Speaker

   As you present or sell, have you ever counted your me versus you ratio? The more you use me, I, mine, our and we you're showing that your needs take priority over the audience's needs. Using you and your audience members names shows you have an interest in them.
   Speaker-centered speakers focus on their own needs. They're concerned with how well they are doing, how impressive they are and of what the audience thinks of them. Audience-centered speakers focus on the needs of the audience. They're concerned with how well the audience is following the speech, and how the audience is reacting, moment to moment.

Six Ways To Deepen Rapport In YourSales Presentations
  • Be an excellent listener.
    Nothing deepens rapport faster and better than listening well. As you listen to your customers, they will connect better and then reciprocally return the listening energy.
  • Slow down and use white space, like an artist does on a canvas.
    Use these quiet breaks for a few seconds at a time, where you refrain from speaking. This gives people time to absorb and digest what you're saying.
  • Calibrate your audience constantly.
    You should observe them, ask for feedback, notice when they are distracted, not with you, tired, losing energy, etc. If you notice a problem, you can fix it, often right away.
  • Talk with, not at your customers.
    There's nothing worse than a one-way conversation. Many salespeople are guilty of this style. Ask for people's feedback and comments. Have a dialogue. Get them interested.
  • Utilize the pre-program customer surveys and interviews you did to customize your content.
    Use their own data, and they will know you cared enough to listen. That's connection-building power.
  • Use Socratic Questioning.
    Socrates was a great teacher because he drew excellent answers out of students by asking penetrating questions. The students had to be self-reflective and intuitive. Ask your customers questions that get them involved and intrigued.

   Outstanding sales presentations are built on relationships with the customer. Go forth and build rapport!