Building Rapport with Your Leads
Building rapport with leads is an important concept for both marketers and salespeople. In the marketer’s eye, building rapport is about “lovable marketing”, that is the compelling content, attractive design, truly useful email campaigns and engaging use of social media platforms. The goal of this rapport, however, is just about gaining new leads. This type of marketing is about getting your prospects excited about your products and services so that they are in a happy, excited mood, ready to do what needs to be done in order to go from prospective customer to converted customer.
The problem is that marketing teams often stop there. They gather up the leads and hand them over to the sales team and call it a day. (NO NO!!!!)
This is not the way that the most effective businesses work. In truly effective business organizations the marketing and sales teams continue working together throughout the experience so that the rapport that they built through their lovable marketing efforts remains in effect until the transaction is complete. This is why rapport-building is critical for ensuring a strong customer base and effective sales efforts. Building this type of rapport with leads does not have to be difficult.
Here are ways that you can create better relationships with your prospects in order to build a stronger customer base and generate more sales:
Talk the Talk
Ways to “talk the talk” even when you aren’t in front of the prospect:
- Testimonials on a third-party website like www.SeniorServiceReviews.com (builds trust and credibility)
- Expert Articles on a topic that the “lead” is concerned about – show them the expert articles you have written on Alzheimer’s Disease, or Reducing Hospital Readmission Rates. Don’t know what I’m talking about here? Then you should visit www.SeniorCareAuthor.com (oh and by the way this can all be done-for-you).
- Monthly Newsletter! (we do this for all of our clients)
We are a species that generally likes to stick with our own kind. We like to deal with people that are similar to us and are more likely to trust someone who exhibits some personality characteristics that we can identify with. This trust, of course, is what will lead to sales and customer loyalty. This is why one of the best tools for marketing directly to customers is learning to adjust your speech to match theirs. This doesn’t mean that you need to learn a variety of accents or play a “part” when you are speaking to individual leads. All this means is taking a cue from how your lead is interacting with you and reflect it. If the person is fast-paced and no-nonsense, give them the facts and increase your rate of speech a touch. If you are speaking to someone who seems very relaxed and likes to be personable, be willing to chat a bit in between talking about business. This encourages your leads to feel comfortable with you, which will automatically lead to generation of more sales.
Turn to Social Media
Social Media Accounts most important in the Senior Care Market?
- LinkedIn.com (professional networking and referral sources)
- Facebook.com (everyone else)
Social media is truly the voice of our times and it has gone beyond changing how marketers are working, but also how members of the sales team are giving their careers a boost as well. Utilizing social media is a fantastic way to gather information about individuals as well as other companies. This supports relationship building as it lets you pick out individual pieces of information off of the site and use them to create a dialogue and show you have things in common. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should scrape everything off of the platform and use it to be just too “in touch”. The most useful information that you will find on these pages is the owner’s opinions about business and products. Interacting by leaving comments and engaging with recommended links is a way to build a relationship. It is important to use the social cues on the page to determine whether you should try to get personal by noting something that you have in common with the person or to stay more general with the connections you make.
Know their Pain and Try to Fix It
“Fix It” Tips:
- Your website should show beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can “SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM” when it comes to senior care issues.
- Your marketing material should do the same.
- Your gathered testimonials should show that YOU HAVE “SOLVED THE PROBLEM” for many other families and seniors.
Building rapport with your leads is not just about making connections over things that you share with your prospects. You must also show them that you recognize their “pain points” and have the ability to help them deal with these issues. This is a tactic that must be used after already establishing a level of rapport so that you can strengthen this rapport and extend it.
Showing your leads that you truly understand the issues that they’ve been having and desire to help them will not only progress you further toward a close by giving you an easy segue into discussing your offerings, but it increases the level of trust between you. Even if you are able to create a bond with a prospect, if you can’t show that you are actually able to help him deal with his pain points then this relationship is going to remain essentially a friendship.
By demonstrating your ability to help your lead, however, you will be a presence in his mind so when he decides it is time to address these pain points with the types of products or services that you offer he will be ready to rely on you.
Validate that the Relationship is Building
Unless you are face-to-face with your lead it can be really difficult to read whether your rapport-building strategies are actually working. This is when you need to seek some validation. Using a lighthearted question to determine whether the lead is engaged in the conversation is a great way to make sure that you are on the right path. Use a blatant, but approachable tactic like, “ I can’t see you, so are nodding right now or are you watching TV?” This is a great way to break any tension that you may be feeling and assure you that your efforts are actually achieving something. Don’t be tempted to do this too frequently, however, or you will risk sounding as though you have no confidence and make the rapport you have built feel uncomfortable. After asking once or twice, tell your lead that you are just going to assume that his silence means that he is following along and that if you say something that he doesn’t like, he will say something.
Call Your Leads Out
It is always possible that your attempts at developing a relationship with your lead could get off on the wrong track. If this happens and you feel like you are losing you relationship, don’t hesitate to try to take control back by calling your leads out. Tell your lead that you feel like the energy of the conversation has changed, or that you noticed that the way that he was reacting to you changed after you mentioned a certain thing. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out on the ledge a bit so that your lead has the opportunity to pull you back in. This will be much more comforting and encouraging than ignoring that things have changed and pretending that the conversation is just going along as normal.
This is also an important time to engage in more listening than talking. Listen to your lead and let him talk about himself some. Spend some time boosting his self-esteem before you start trying to work toward a close.
Practice Makes Perfect
There are some members of the marketing and sales force that are fantastic at building rapport and seem to be able to do it without even trying, while others have to really work at it. It’s important to remember, however, that it is a skill that can be learned. Start by exploring the lead’s website and picking out certain key pieces of information such as where the company is located or anything else that you can use to start a conversation. Use this information to role play a conversation with someone else in your company. Make an effort to develop a genuine conversation rather than just throwing around a few clichés before moving along.
Once you feel more comfortable with starting a conversation, work on transitioning from casual conversation to discussing the business. It is critical that your lead at no point feels as though you are wasting their time. If you simply can’t get a grip on building rapport, don’t get discouraged. Keep working on gaining the respect of your leads and showing that you can help them with your offerings.
Don’t Lose Hope
Remember that you aren’t going to be able to build a strong relationship with your lead on the first phone call and not have to work on it ever again.
You must constantly keep up with the relationship. Continue to be active on their social media platforms, share with them links to articles or videos that you think that they would enjoy and send occasional emails that you think that they will find helpful. This will demonstrate that you are still dedicated to helping them even after the first successful close. You want your leads to feel that you care about the relationship and that you are there for them.
Valerie’s motto and favorite saying is: “Impact is not created by big budgets, impact is created by innovative marketing ideas!”
Valerie is a Registered Nurse and the author of three books, Aging Answers (2003), The Senior Solution (2007) and Priceless Caregiving (2009). Her adventure in internet marketing began as a self-promotion experiment and ended up becoming a full time marketing consulting business for the elder care market.
Valerie has appeared on national television (Today Show), has hosted her own local radio show, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications and radio shows across the country regarding her business and the business of elder care.
She fast became the foremost authority in driving sales via the internet, seminars, and e-mail for senior service providers and elder care entrepreneurs.While Valerie’s best known for her expertise in marketing, her students share that her biggest impact comes from her ability to make things happen quickly, even on a small budget.
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