When I introduce the subject of rapport to clients I sometimes get the response “It’s OK, I get on fine with people” and a look that says “no need to cover that, let’s move on”. Well not so quick!
People often think of rapport as simply the ability to interact socially with people. Whilst social interaction skills are essential in business, rapport building is a deeper process which has a greater impact on your ability to attract more business
If relationships are the foundation of sales then rapport is the foundation of relationships and a finer appreciation of rapport can lead to a positive impact on your performance
Rapport is a process of establishing trust and understanding. If your prospect trusts you they are more likely to share information with you which will allow you to provide a tailored and unique solution to meet their needs
The larger the $ ask, the greater the level of trust required. If you approach a prospect to sell them a $1 raffle ticket, a minimal level of trust is necessary, if you approach a prospect with a $1million deal, significantly more trust is needed
The essence of rapport building is to join the world of the other person before leading them into yours. Many sales approaches fail because people talk enthusiastically about what they have to offer rather than take the time to participate in or understand the world of the prospect (they fail to develop trust and understanding)
Build rapport in different ways
By all means be passionate and enthusiastic about your product and services, but what your prospect really wants to know is that you care about THEIR issues. You can demonstrate that you want to understand their needs and issues through the use of probing questions and active listening techniques.
Use language, words, phrases and key issues from the world of your prospect not your own. The more research you do on your prospect the greater your opportunity to engage in a conversation in their world. Before any meeting I always have topics up my sleeve to discuss with the prospect based on prospect research.
Dress for the audience that you approach. I have seen many prospects turned off simply because they look at the people across the table from them and think “we can’t work with them!” This is a particular danger for people who approach prospects who operate in a culturally different environment (i.e. not for profits approaching corporates).
So at your next meeting move into your prospect’s world, you might be pleasantly surprised at the result!