Bad Rapport Building on Intro Call Cost Me $50,000 Opportunity

About the author: Ian Adams is a Mid-Market Account Executive at Yesware. Certain details have been anonymized out of respect for all parties involved.

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Every week, I have about 15 buyer conversations. That breaks down to 2­ - 4 calls/meetings per day where rapport building comes into play. Some of those meetings are booked by me, others are intro calls booked by the Sales Development Representatives (SDR) I work with. 

On Wednesday morning, an SDR sent me an invite for an intro call later that afternoon. It was with the Sales Operations Manager of an 800+ employee company with a 90 person sales team. They offer accounting and compliance software and have raised over $100 million from investors.

Before each intro call, I thoroughly research the company and individual I'll be speaking with. I once heard a saying that, "the length of your call warrants at least that amount of time in preparation." So, if you have a 30 minute call scheduled, it warrants at least 30 minutes of preparation.

During my research, I'd discovered that the Sales Operations Manager I was speaking with also happened to manage an herbal remedy health website. She had run this site for the past 7 years, and I'd imagined one who offered such products would be in touch with their earthly, spiritual side.

I'd also noticed that the company was headquartered on an island off the coast Oregon. That would be a valuable piece of information to break the ice, at least I thought it would be.

 

Rapport Building at Beginning of the Intro Call

Well, I dialed into the conference line at 4pm pacific time. She dialed in 1 minute later.

"Hello Stephanie?" I asked.

"Yes, hi Ian. It's nice to meet you." She replied.

"It's nice to meet you as well. I noticed you are located on Stronghorn Island. Based on the photos I found online, it looks beautiful out there." I said.

With a short tone, she said, "Our company moved to Seattle last fall. We are not located there anymore. Listen, I don't have very much time, can we get to the point?"

I could feel my face becoming flush. You know that feeling of warmth and rapid reddening in the cheeks. That was me. Fortunately, I could hide behind the phone and only hope my voice didn't reflect how I was truly feeling.

 

What Really Went Wrong?

Who knows what went wrong. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe I misread the situation.

My pre­-call research led me to believe that she would have an "Amiable" personality. They are dependable, loyal and easygoing. They like things that are non­threatening and friendly. They hate dealing with impersonal details and cold hard facts.

That however, was not the case in this situation.

 

Listing Off Features Doesn't Solve Problems

She proceeded to interrogate me about one feature after another. It was a barrage of "tell me what features you offer?" Then before I could explain further, it was followed by, "we can already do that, what else have you got?"

It felt like Yosemite Sam (her) forcing Bugs Bunny (me) to dance by shooting at his feet. I was doing the feature dance.

Traditionally, my intro calls last no longer than 15 to ­30 minutes. This was on target to wrap up at the 15 minute mark.

Surprisingly, I still booked next steps with her because the company is qualified. But not surprisingly, she no ­showed and has gone completely dark on me. Isn’t that the best.

 

Conclusion

On an intro call, rapport building is less important than business value. Maybe you've experienced a similar situation on an intro call. It was an unpleasant experience for me, and unproductive for both of us.

These days, I skip the chit­chat. The small talk. The weather. I leave it out (unless they lead with it, then I go along for a brief moment).

Instead, I focus on asking questions that have a purpose. Leading with information that brings them closer to achieving their personal or business goals. The focus is on the value. If you get their buy­ in on the value first, there will be plenty of opportunity to build rapport later. 

Because ultimately, the amount of value you bring to their business will determine the success of your relationship.

Would you share a few ideas on how you structure your intro calls?