Rapport Building

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A CBS News / New York Times poll asked, “What percent of people, in general, are trustworthy?

The answer: 30%. Pretty sceptical we all are, right?

Not necessarily. At the same time, the CBS News / New York Times poll asked a similar group the same question, but with a slight difference. “What percent of people that you know are trustworthy?”

The answer: 70%.

That’s a huge difference. Goes to show you: when people get to know you and people get to like you, people begin to trust you.

Of course, there’s a lot more to building rapport and trust than making a good initial connection with someone, but it’s a good start. And making a connection with someone makes them more comfortable sharing with you their aspirations and their afflictions, two things you need to know if you want to succeed in sales.

When you build rapport in sales, keep in mind you want to make a sincere connection. All too often chit-chat before a sales call seems contrived…because it is.


Simple techniques for building rapport quickly and effectively:
    1. Be on time!
    2. Be positive. Let’s start with your attitude, are you friendly, confident, enthusiastic, relaxed etc.
    3. Take control – be pleasant/friendly but keep on track of why you are there.
    4. Explain the agenda/structure you will follow and confirm this is ok.
    5. Check time frames, this shows respect for their time.
    6. Show your knowledge. This is the point where you re-cap what you have learnt about the client during your pre-visit research.  The value of doing this is that the basic client information is dealt with quickly and you can move on to more interesting questions, thereby,
    7. keeping the client-focused and involved. It also shows that you have done your homework and earns you a little bit of respect.
    8. Find common ground. Another powerful rapport-building technique is to find common experiences with the customer and then bring those up during the conversation. This is something we all do when we first meet someone talk about the weather, sports, or current events. This is a fast way of building rapport, but be sure that you don’t focus only on this step – if you don’t mirror and match your customer, the customer won’t feel that your rapport building is natural or sincere. Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest) has now made it easy even for inside sales reps (who don’t have the benefit of visiting the customer in person) to uncover common experiences with the customer quickly. With social media, any salesperson can promptly research their customers and find potential common experiences such as career background, current work situation, education background, hobbies, etc. It is vital, however, to be authentic and real – people do not like fakes!
    9. Mirror and Match. Body language/voice etc. Its’ not about copying, rather making subtle changes to be more in sympathy with the other person.
    10. Empathy. Harvard neuroscientists Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell have conducted a series of behavioural experiments, pointing to the fact that talking about yourself feels so rewarding, right down to brain cells and synapse, that people can’t help sharing details about themselves. If you can get people talking about themselves, you’ve made some progress. If you can show them that you listened to them, they’ll be strongly inclined to like you. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. If you want to understand another person, a) get them talking about themselves by asking the right questions, and b) demonstrate that you are listening.
    11. Understand their persona and play to it, rather than your own – remember people like people how are like themselves! Not everyone wants to chat…
    12. Never make assumptions about a person.
    13. Ask questions! People LOVE to talk about themselves, so it should be you asking them questions and then doing the talking for at least 70% of the conversation.
    14. Be present and be an active listener. Focus on what they are saying, make notes, notice their tone of voice, body language etc. Do not be distracted by your thoughts, what you want to say.
    15. Look for a purpose / help them. What’s in it for them – rather than what’s in it for me. How can I help them?
    16. Be focussed.
    17. Read the culture.
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