Tips on rapport building from top performers in telemarketing

Oct 25, 2012 14:35:31 PM

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Anyone who has tried generating leads, appointment setting or direct sales through cold calling will know it’s an activity that requires determination and ongoing training and development.

If you’re responsible for telemarketing for your business or if you’re in charge of a team of diallers, you’re probably well aware of the importance of good rapport building.

In a typical call centre environment, rapport is often measured using a sort of ‘score card’ system.  As agents pass through qualified leads or appointments, the quality assurance team will listen to recordings of each call, and listen out for instances where the telemarketer has succeeded in developing a good level of rapport with the prospect.

Whilst this is one method of encouraging people to remember the importance of building rapport, it’s also a sure fire way of those efforts becoming robotic and insincere.

It’s much better to ensure you properly understand what good rapport building is, the benefits it can bring and, all importantly, the best ways to do it well.

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What is rapport building?

Natural rapport building is a vital part of two-way communication.  If it’s lacking, it will almost certainly negatively impact the outcome of the call.  Sometimes it comes easily, you will sometimes just get on with someone, meaning conversations run smoothly, often ending in the outcome you were hoping for.

Traditional telesales training will tell you to mirror your prospect and latch onto personal information about them.  However, this doesn’t necessarily translate well into a business-to-business (B2B) environment.  In fact, if you’re over familiar and your enthusiasm is forced, you’re more likely to just come across as annoying.

Good rapport building is something you’re doing on a daily basis, when communicating with colleagues, friends and family, clients and suppliers.  It’s unforced, and therefore it’s likely you don’t even realise you’re doing it.

So how can you build naturally good rapport?

Be genuine – don’t try and take on a ‘salesy’ persona.  Be professional, courteous and, most importantly, be yourself.

Be interested – sometimes it’s really hard to be genuinely enthused about your customer’s business, especially if their products or services aren’t particularly interesting. Even if this is the case, there is plenty you should be interested in.  Namely why they might want to buy from you – what are their pain points?  Their needs and desires as a business?  Show interest in these and you’re more likely to get the information you need.

Be confident – tone of voice is so important.  Be clear, positive and assured.  This will help you gain your prospect’s trust and give them confidence in you.

Be a good listener – It’s amazing how many sales people throw question after question at their prospects without actually properly listening to their answers.  Train yourself to actively listen at all times, making short notes to remind yourself of a point if you want to ask further questions once they’ve finished speaking.  Remember to log notes after every conversation, and then use these points to help re-establish that rapport on the next call.  E.g. “I remember you were prepping for an exhibition when we spoke last month, how did that go for you?”

In B2B, it’s not always easy to build really personal rapport.  It all depends on the relationship you develop with each individual.  However, if you’re speaking with someone over a long period of time, it’s likely the conversations will become more relaxed.  If your prospect opens up about their home life or likes and dislikes outside a work environment, you can also use this to find common ground. E.g. a common hobby or a shared love of foreign travel.

With more and more businesses using some form of marketing automation, we have an increasing amount of insight into our prospects interests, needs and pain points, sometimes even before we have spoken to them on the telephone.  If your organisation uses a solution like Hubspot or similar, ask your marketing team for information on each prospect prior to making your calls so you can make a more personalised approach.

Natural rapport building doesn’t come easily to everyone.  If you find it a struggle, seek help and advice from top-performing colleagues who are skilled in this area.  Take pointers from them and then tailor their approach to fit your own style.  And most importantly, relax.

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