"That's a very interesting question," responded Tim. Clara had just walked right up to Tim and asked if the indicated price on the red convertible was the lowest price. "Why do you ask that?"
"Well, most of the dealers I have been..." she paused for a moment waving her hand up and down, "they have been... talking about $1,000 dollars of the sticker." She stood looking just to the left of Tim's head, not making eye contact.
"So..." responded Tim, "I hear what you are saying. What would you like to hear about that red one?"
Clara looked around the showroom and then went on with another wave of the hand, "I'd like to hear if you can also take $1,000 off the sticker."
Time got up and gestured with his hand, careful not to make eye contact and asked, "Might be a problem - that is the lowest price. I don't know if you want to listen to this..." he waited until Clara responded.
"Listen to what?" she asked, finally making eye contact.
"We all made the decision to change the way we sell vehicles here. Most folks hate to get into a verbal tug-of-war, you know, negotiating. Would you mind if I asked you kind of a difficult question?" Time waited again until there was a response.
"What is it?" Clara finally responded, looking at the convertible.
"Are you uncomfortable with the verbal negotiating at all the other dealerships?"
Clara once again made eye contact. "Yes," she said, "Every car I've every bought I've always wondered if I could have done better."
"Would it be fair of me to say that you would like to avoid listening to the 'I said this, you offered this, let me talk to the sales manager to hear if he can listen to what you've offered' game?"
"It would be a big load off... I hate that," she responded with a big smile.
"Thanks for sharing that with me. I really appreciate that we're communicating. Could we talk for a minute about what you want out of a vehicle?"
"I'd really like that. Here are a couple of things that I always hear myself saying."
Tim spent less than two minutes establishing an excellent beginning rapport with Clara.
Developing and maintaining rapport with prospects and existing customers is essential. Establishing rapport enables both of you to treat the other as an equal. In other words, the prospect/customer has less reason to see you as someone whose only interest in her is her money. The same applies to the salesperson. There is less reason for you to see the prospect/customer as just a collection of objections that you have to beat down.
This does not mean you become friends for life. What it does mean is that the sales situation becomes one of both of you negotiating towards a possible sale. If the sale happens, great. If it doesn't, you have left the door open for possible future business from her or referrals from her.
With existing customers, it is even more important to re-establish rapport at every contact. Existing customers give you 80 percent of your business. It's in your best interest to treat them well. They already know you are a salesperson; they've already developed a sense of trust in you. Why not nurture that groundwork you have already established? Keep in mind that your existing customer is always someone else's daily prospect. If you don't deepen the rapport, someone else will.
Tim could have taken the standard approach and mumbled something about his price being the lowest of everyone and if someone else quoted a lower price, well, watch out for the extras. He didn't. He reached out, literally at one point, since he determined Clara was an auditory buyer who gestured, and made it comfortable for her to talk about a difficult subject, price.
He did this by asking her questions worded in her auditory style. Because he adopted her style, she was immediately comfortable talking with him. Why wouldn't she be? This is the style in which she makes buying decisions.
Determine the buying style of the prospect and adopt it as your own. Pay careful attention to what the prospect initially says. Reverse her statements or questions until you are clued into her buying style. Clara used the word "talking" to describe the $1,000 off, gestured, and did not make eye contact. All signs of an auditory buyer.
Establishing rapport with a prospect is the essential first step in any sales situation.