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How to Build Rapport and Make More Consulting Sales

By Michael Zipursky
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Have you ever felt uncomfortable asking for the sale?

You were speaking with a buyer, your ideal client, and for some reason it slipped out of your hands like a wet bar of soap. You thought the sale was coming and then it was gone.

Your first focus should be on building rapport with your buyer. People don’t buy from people they don’t like. So job one is to establish a foundation for the relationship. One that you can build on.

Consultants often become frustrated in situations like these. They know they can help the buyer and yet they can’t seem to win their business.

Has this ever happened to you?

Let’s explore why this happens and how to deal with it so that you can start winning more business.

Opportunity to Make the Sale

Entering into a conversation with your ideal consulting client is essential to make the sale. It’s your best opportunity and without the conversation your chances of winning the sale are slim to none.

But you don’t want to start the conversation with the focus on making the sale. Why?

Because before you enter the conversation you don’t even know if you can really help the buyer. Are you the best person to do so? If not, there’s no point in making the sale, right? As consultants we’re not in the business of just selling our services. We’re in the business of providing value and results for our clients.

Since we know that every sale starts with a conversation here’s how to get it started…

1. Build Rapport with Buyer

Your first focus should be on building rapport with your buyer. People don’t buy from people they don’t like. So job one is to establish a foundation for the relationship. One that you can build on.

Your initial conversation can be about a variety of things: the weather (yes, I know that sounds sooo boring but people love talking about the weather), your location or where the buyer is from, anything you have in common, specifics about their industry, hobbies, etc. The important thing is that you want to start the conversation with a topic that the buyer wants to talk about. Not something they will find boring and certainly not about selling something to them.

Note: This initial conversation topic shouldn’t take up your whole meeting. Even a few short minutes to break the ice and build that rapport and friendly feeling is sufficient.

Another note: Be genuine. This isn’t a show. You’re not an actor. Don’t make things up. Be honest, transparent and real.

Now that the conversation has started on the right foot it’s time to move to the next step…

2. Enter the Sales Conversation

Despite the name the Sales Conversation isn’t about making the sale. You may make a sale and you may not. Again this will depend on whether there is a good fit.

If you can really solve the problems that the buyer is having and you can do so in a way that provides great value you’ll likely be able to make the sale (if you follow the tips I’m sharing here).

Your effectiveness in having this conversation depends on two things:

  1. The questions you ask. I teach 15 questions you can ask in a sales conversation in my coaching program for consultants. Regardless of how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you are making sales and speaking with buyers when you learn the specific questions to ask making sales becomes much, much easier.
  2. Discover the value. One of the most important parts of the Sales Conversation is to discover the value for the buyer. Once you’ve done this you will be well prepared to communicate the value of your services to the buyer. This allows you to win the business more quickly and ALSO to earn significantly higher fees because the buyer SEES the value and will invest with you at a much higher level.

After you’ve gone through the Sales Conversation (a series of questions that you ask the buyer) you will determine whether or not it makes sense for you to make your offer.

Here’s what this looks like…

3. Present Offer and Next Steps

If the fit is right you will have a perfect opportunity to present your offer.

Essentially you’ll paint a high level picture of how you can help the buyer solve their problem and achieve the result they want.

In some situations, especially when you’ve asked the right questions and had an effective sales conversation, the buyer will be ready to accept your offer right then and there.

Other times you’ll be well positioned to make your offer and then say: “Does that sound good to you?” When the buyer responds with “Yes” you continue with “Great, I’ll put together a proposal and send that over to you tomorrow…”

If it’s clear the buyer requires more time to decide go ahead and schedule your next meeting with them.

Note: A BIG mistake some consultants make is to end a conversation with the buyer and not schedule next steps. NEVER end a meeting or call with a buyer without some agreed to next steps. It may be another call in a few days or a meeting the following week. Schedule the day and time of the next step.

If you don’t do this you’ll end up spending a great deal of time going back and forth trying to nail down another time to continue the conversation…this often results in telephone tag and voicemail vortex (yes I think I just made that up!) that you can’t seem to get out of.

The Takeaway

Remember to start your conversation focused on building rapport. Then enter an effective sales conversation by asking the right questions and focusing on value. And always, always my friend make sure that you present your offer or schedule next steps.

When you follow this outline you’ll win more business and do so faster than before.

Special Opportunity: I’m opening up 3 more spots in my coaching program. If you’d like my personal help to consistently attract more ideal clients for your business, earn higher fees and have more effective sales conversations with buyers get in touch. We’ll have a conversation to see if it’s a fit and if it is we can start taking action right away so I can help you win more business and grow your revenues and income.

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