Glenn Poulos has been in sales since 1985. His first six years in sales were spent as an employee. When his company wouldn’t allow him to start his own spin-off, he quit and started his own company—which he ran for 15 years.
He sold that company and started another, Gap Wireless, which he also ran for 15 years and sold in February 2022. In each of his companies, he bought technology from around the world and sold it in the US and Canada.
During the last 30+, Glenn learned numerous important lessons in the world of sales, many of which he penned in his book, “Never Sit in the Lobby: 57 Winning Sales Factors to Grow a Business and Build a Career Selling.”
One of the things he covers is how to build rapport with clients. There are a multitude of things you can do to build rapport. There are also things you should avoid.
Avoid implied familiarity
Glenn emphasizes that implied familiarity breeds contempt. What does it look like? It’s when you go into someone’s office, look at their photos, and try to form a connection with them, assuming that those photos tell their story. You could be way off the mark. You implied familiarity. What do you do instead?
Focus on active listening. If someone truly likes baseball, fishing, soccer, hockey, etc., you engage with them (if it’s genuine). Glenn doesn’t love sports, so he doesn’t engage at that level. Active listening feels daunting at first, but it’s important.
Do apply active listening
One of Glenn’s exercises asks you to engage with a significant other only using active listening statements, no matter what they say. When you get to the end of the conversation, only using those words, they’ll either say you’re a great listener or that they enjoyed the conversation. It’s because they got to do all the talking. Listen to the customer, engage with them, and get them talking.
Watch Your Weekend Problem
How do you establish rapport? Glenn uses a technique called “Watch your weekend problem.”
- Watch: You say, “Oh, that’s a nice watch.” Ask for the story behind it. (It doesn’t have to be a watch but anything unique they might be wearing).
- What do you do on the weekend when you’re not working? Maybe they play pickleball, hike, go fishing, etc., and engage with that.
- What’s the biggest problem you’re dealing with in your business right now? What keeps you up at night?
Following this structure can not only help you establish rapport but theoretically will get them to open up and answer questions you need to know about their business.
And it’s a strategy that you can use to get to know anyone. Once they start talking, apply active listening techniques.
Glenn shares five more strategies salespeople can use to “Get, act, and stay in front of customers and be a pleasure to do business with always” in episode #407 of Negotiations Ninja. Don’t miss it!