How to build rapport in a socially distanced world

Building rapport is essential to creating successful business relationships. It is a well-known belief that body language accounts for 55% of our communication effectiveness. Tonality accounts for 38% and our words just 7%. But in a world where it’s difficult to meet in person right now, how do you make sure you’re communicating as effectively as possible?

Post-Covid-19, people are seeking connection more than ever before; it’s time to capitalise using methods that will keep your prospects engaged and help you build that trust and affinity that leads to longstanding relationships.

Get your body language right: On a video call, presentation matters. Keep your attention on the call, make eye contact and demonstrate your interest in what they have to say through positive body language. Even if you’re on a voice call, endeavour to correct your posture and smile. It will have a positive effect on your communication style, your energy, your tone and even your vocabulary.

Say their name: When you use your prospect’s name regularly, you reassure them of your interest and hold their attention.

Mirroring to establish connection: If you mirror the way your prospect speaks, you will focus more attention on your words and sentiment rather than their surroundings. If they speak slowly, try to replicate it; if they speak quickly, try to keep up with their pace.

Tailor your approach: Try to identify how your prospect approaches business and tailor your own approach to suit. Some people tend to be conceptual and strategic and don’t like getting bogged down in detail. Conversely, detail-oriented people will be reassured by a detailed and analytical approach.

Matching communication style: Identify quickly if your prospect is a visual, auditory or kinesthetic communicator and match their style.  Listen for words like; see and look (visual), hear and listen (auditory), feel and sense (kinesthetic). Your prospect will feel better understood and a stronger connection if you mirror their words back to them using statements like: “let me show you”, “I hear what you’re saying” or “I sense there is an opportunity here”.

Active listening: Listen closely to what your prospect says and reaffirm their thoughts back to them, where you can to show that you’ve listened and are committed to finding the right solution for them.

Ask searching questions: These questions give your prospect the opportunity to talk about their pain points and give you far greater insight than limiting them to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. It also fosters a much more organic conversation, and the more your prospect is involved in the conversation, the more engaged they’ll be.

Demonstrate your expertise: Establish who you are and shed light on the problems you solve for customers, staying focused on the end-user benefits. This is where you can compound your active listening skills by demonstrating how your service could make a difference to their business.

Show empathy: Use phrases like “I understand where you’re coming from”. Showing genuine empathy helps you to gain the prospect’s trust and leads them towards accepting that you really may be able to help.

Communicate the purpose of your call: Always communicate clearly and professionally, the desired outcome of your conversation. Your prospect will appreciate knowing the purpose of your call from the outset and they will see that you value their time. At Air, we’re experienced in building rapport and shaping the right sales approach for our customers. To hear more about how we can help you achieve your sales goals, get in touch today or call us on 0345 241 3038.

Air Marketing Group Forms Collaborative Partnership With Sales Geek

Exeter-based outsourced sales specialist Air Marketing Group has agreed a collaborative partnership with Blackburn-based training company Sales Geek.

Air Marketing Group (Air) is the UK’s leading supplier of outsourced sales services, helping businesses to generate sales pipeline using proven sales and lead generation strategies.

Sales Geek is an award-winning provider of sales training to a huge variety of businesses, with clients across the UK and internationally.

The partnership agreement will see Air providing lead generation and telesales for Sales Geek in return for Sales Geek providing training to the Air sales team. In building their relationship in this way, the intention is that the companies will act as structured referral partners to one another.

Sales Geek Founder and CEO Richard Few said: “While the contra deal will see both companies providing significant mutual value to one another in a direct exchange of services, the really exciting part for me comes from the opportunities for bilateral referrals.”

“Sales Geek provides training on lead generation, but we don’t provide actual outsourced telemarketing. Customers often ask us if we do though, so it’s great to have a trusted referral partner we can put them in touch with if they have that need.”

“Air on the other hand are experts at lead generation, but are often asked for help with sales conversion – which is where Sales Geek come in.”

“We are really looking forwards to working in partnership with Air and we feel the partnership will be of huge advantage to both companies.”

Air Marketing Group CEO, Owen Richards, said: “Learning and development is at the top of our priority list for Team Air. It’s something that we’ve always had a focus on and will continue to hold in high regard as we scale up in our exciting growth journey.”

“While we continually hit and exceed targets for our clients, we pride ourselves on generating quality leads. Our Business Development Executives (BDEs) therefore require a wide variety of skills and rigorous training is an incredibly important way of achieving this.”

“Our team can’t wait to start their training with Sales Geek and are excited to learn new skills. On a personal level, I have a fantastic relationship with the Sales Geek team and look forward to seeing how our partnership flourishes.”

To celebrate the partnership, Air and Sales Geek are combining to bring you some great sales insight with a deadly Halloween twist. Our CEO, Owen Richards, and Sales Geek Group Sales Director, Jonathan Finch, will take you through the SEVEN deadly sins destroying your pipeline.

Join us on Thursday 22nd October, 3pm – 4pm, for our FREE Webinar. Register here.

Air Marketing Group Welcome Non-Executive Director Clodagh Murphy

Air Marketing Group (Air), the UK’s leading supplier of outsourced sales services, are delighted to announce the appointment of Non-Executive Director (NED), Clodagh Murphy.

In a move that re-enforces Air’s relentless ambition to scale, the appointment of Clodagh as Non-Exec represents an important step in the future of Air Marketing and its sister company, Roots To Market.

As the previous Managing Director of Eclipse part of KCOM Group PLC, Clodagh impressively led the diversification and digital transformation of the business growing revenue from £20m to £38m over a 5 year period. And its that experience that Air is so excited to have around the board room table.

Clodagh now holds prestigious positions across a number of Exeter based organisations including ExIST (Exeter Initiative for Science and Technology), Exeter Chamber of Commerce, and has also launched her very own lockdown start-up, Larks Live.

Air are on an exciting growth journey and are working hard to scale to the next level. In its first 3 years, after launching in 2016, the group’s revenue grew to more than £2million with its team growing to more than 55 people.

Like many businesses, Air is now navigating its way through a very unusual 2020 but is one of a few services led businesses looking at going forward across the year, despite temporarily losing ground in this first half of the year.

Air is now delighted to be looking up and forward and couldn’t be more delighted to have Clodagh onboard, contributing to the company strategy, direction and mission.

Planning for the next stage of growth, Air are undergoing a brand re-fresh, having significantly outgrown their start-up look over the past 4 years. They’re also working on building a new custom-CRM, to further advance the abilities of their current custom-CRM improving the experience further for their client base.

Managing Director, Owen Richards, said: “We’re really excited to have Clodagh onboard. She’s a fantastic asset and influential within many successful businesses. Clodagh is fully brought into our vision and is already helping us to achieving this”.

Clodagh will also be joining the board of Air’s sister company, Roots to Market – a demand generation agency specialising in delivering marketing with a sales attitude.

“I’ve really enjoyed the time I have spent working with Owen and the Leadership Team this year. Air Marketing and Roots to Market are fantastic businesses with hugely committed teams. I’m delighted to join and be part of the team which will see us deliver exciting plans to accelerate growth.” – Clodagh Murphy

If you would like to join Team Air and play your part in their growth journey, you can learn more about our live roles and apply here.

Writing a new playbook, my lessons from lockdown

The start of lockdown seems like a lifetime ago now, but when I cast my mind back over the past few months it’s clear that it not only represented a turning point in all of our lives but marked a big change in the way we do business. As a sales professional, I’m no stranger to the challenges of a fast-changing and unpredictable environment. As many people in the sales community will attest, it’s all part of the deal. But this was very different. As soon as lockdown was announced, there was an immediate shift in mindset. It felt like the market froze overnight, paralysed by the uncertainty of well… everything. Before the lockdown, we had a warm pipeline of opportunities almost coming to fruition that seemed to drop immediately. People’s faith was understandably crumbling in new and uncertain territory, and sales was not immune.

When you have no idea what the future holds, decision making is harder than ever and that was reflected in the numbers. Slowly but surely, we started to see a gradual change in mindset and attitude as lockdown measures were eased and the market recognised that this may be the ‘new normal’.

From an outbound perspective, prospecting was a challenge in the early weeks of lockdown. We experienced a dip in contact rates and getting hold of decision makers became more difficult. We noticed that the quality of the opportunities coming through our inbound channels improved, with people being ready to buy rather than making a general enquiry about services. Another silver lining was this also meant an increase in conversion rates.

In hesitant times, the purse strings tighten. We saw the average sales cycles increase, most likely due to revised budgets. The decision-making process was taking far longer, with more levels of sign-off from decisions makers before making the final commitment, due to sensitivity around spending.

Reaching a turning point

In the past 8 weeks I’ve noticed a significant change in attitude to outsourcing sales and marketing, and the decision-making process has streamlined and accelerated. In my opinion, this can be attributed to decision makers accepting and adapting to the ‘new normal’ and making that leap of faith to reinvigorate their sales and marketing plans.

With internal teams being furloughed, the flexibility and scalability of the outsourced sales and marketing model has an additional appeal to businesses right now and we have seen a growth in our enquiries from prospects looking to outsource.

Ultimately, there was no playbook for surviving sales in a global pandemic and companies have had to keep selling and building the pipeline for a life beyond lockdown. I feel like my perspective has certainly shifted. As a sales team we’ve adapted our approach and it’s been a good thing that we’ve been able to have empathetic conversations with our customers and prospects, as all good partnerships are based on honesty. Now more than ever, it’s important to be human and employ empathy and reassurance in our business and personal lives.

Opinion piece by Marco Alfano-Rogers
Sales Director, Air Marketing