Rapport in the sales process is essential. Even if your offering, pricing and target market are all on-point, without the ‘likeability’ factor, your success in sales is under some serious pressure. But all is not lost. With these seven steps, you can build rapport like a pro and move your sales process along at great speed.
1. Be genuine. Be the best version of yourself that you can be, although don’t try to be anything you are not. Don’t look to create a new persona or adopt a “sales-like” tone. Relax, smile (authentically!), and go in to any sales situation with a positive attitude. Good things will follow. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
2. Be warm and friendly. Chilly people get chilly reactions from other people. Approach rapport building with the intent to be warm and friendly. Smile, give a firm handshake, make eye contact, and engage. If you’re on the phone, being warm and friendly is even more important as you miss those non-verbal cues. Be clear, concise and ask questions, to ensure you convey the message that you want to know all about your prospect.
3. Show interest. No surprise to anyone, people are self-focused. This is quite helpful to those of us in selling because we need to learn about our prospects before we can provide the best solutions. People want to feel like they have an opening to share what they’re thinking, including their desires, fears, and problems. The more genuinely interested you appear the more relaxed and willing to share they’re likely to be.
4. Be a peer. Most of us know someone who wanted to be liked, so they “tried hard,” but it didn’t work. In trying to be liked, you can appear needy. You cannot force rapport. Show interest, but don’t act subservient, overly friendly, or too pushy or you will only turn the other person off.
5. Give genuine compliments. Sycophants get nowhere, but genuine compliments are endearing. If you like the office, someone’s web site, or are impressed with their book, say so. If your prospect had a recent accomplishment, relay your authentic congratulations. This can go a long way towards building rapport and they’ll appreciate it.
6. Calibrate the rapport to “just right.” New salespeople can be overly sensitive to their prospects time. They often think, “I have an hour for this meeting and she’s a CEO of a mid-size company. I need to use the whole time to get my points across. No time for chitchat.” So, the seller dives right in with no ice breaking conversation. I don’t see that ending well.
Others can spend too much time chatting, and the prospect might get antsy to get down to business. Do your best to read the other person and find the right amount of rapport-focused conversation.
7. Read the culture. Always be yourself but, at the same time, you should adjust your approach to the other person and company. Don’t change who you are to fit the culture but be aware of how the culture works and how your actions could be viewed.
For example, if they’re a suit and tie kind of organisation, then it’s best you wear a sharp suit yourself. If they are a more relaxed business, then you can afford to be a little less formal, but still maintaining your own company’s values.