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And what you need to do about it

One of my clients asked me this week about how to build rapport with her prospects as she said she wasn’t very good at it.

“What makes you say that?” Said I in a slightly puzzled way. That was really not the impression I got talking to her on our coaching calls.

“Well after I have introduced myself I struggle to keep the conversation going, or sometimes even get it started! I ask a few questions, but I notice my prospect doesn’t seem to be listening. It must be that I’m rubbish at building rapport….right?”

Well the answer is Yes and No.

No because she is actually good at building rapport.

Yes because she doesn’t actually apply it in a sales situation, which is why she sucks at it!

What is Rapport?

Rapport is a state of harmonious understanding with another individual or group that enables greater and easier communication. In other words rapport is about getting on well with another person, or group of people, by having things in common. In turn this makes the communication process easier and usually more effective.

Why Rapport Building is important?

For me it is simply a matter of trust to enable the exchange of information to be effectively communicated. Pretty damn essential for a lot of things, but especially selling.

Take a look at the results of a poll carried out by CBS News / New York Times which asked,

“What percent of people in general are trustworthy?”

The answer: 30%.

Is this right?

I suggest maybe not as the result was very different when they asked a similar group the same question, but with a slight change of words.

“What percent of people that you know are trustworthy?”

The answer: 70%

So when we know someone, our trust in them increases dramatically.

For me the process of developing that position of trust is called rapport building. Let’s face it, we always find it easier to talk to someone when we know that there is something we have in common.

[easy-tweet tweet=”When you build trust, trust follows you – Costas Voyatzis” user=”SucceedatSellin”]

After digging a bit deeper we established that my client lacked a bit of confidence in how to build rapport with clients. She thought she might come across as too pushy or salesy.

However, once you have mastered the skill of building rapport, you will find you come across as the least salesy person you know.

How to build rapport

  • Be yourself, warm and friendly – Relax and be the person your friends and family know and love. By doing this your improved confidence will make you appear the approachable professional that you really are.
  • Read the culture and calibrate to just right – This is all about matching your approach to suit your prospect. For example, if you normally wear a suit and tie, but enter an office where everyone is dressed casually then discreetly remove your tie and perhaps your jacket too. That way you are presenting yourself in a way that your prospect will find more comfortable.
  • Balance advocacy and enquiry – Don’t always be a Yes man or woman. Your prospect is seeking out some expertise that you have and you need to show that you have it. Agreeing with everything they say will simply not do that. The occasional challenge will deliver interesting results.
  • Show interest and listen actively – Truly listening to what your prospect is saying is vital to building great rapport. Adjustments to positive body language such as nodding in agreement and taking notes are always a must.
  • 80 / 20 Pareto rule – Remember to get the prospect talking for the majority of the time. Besides being an excellent way to build rapport, you will also benefit by better understanding what their needs are.
  • Watch the time – We all have time restraints and your prospect is no different. Always good to establish how much time you have with them before you start the call or meeting. This will make them feel more relaxed that you are there to help rather than hinder their objectives for the meeting.

Great rapport building comes with practice so get out there and network with as many people as possible. Just have a list of great questions that you want ask and off you go. Rapport building is a lot easier than you might previously considered. Just think of it as building a position of trust with your prospect so that they become relaxed enough to want to buy from you.

If you are not sure about the right questions to ask then take 5 mins to read my blog on the subject. Like selling, rapport building is easier than you think when you know what to do!