In our previous post we took a look at what rapport is and the usefulness of rapport building in sales. Now we’re going to look at actual methods to build rapport in sales. When you’ve established rapport with your audience, they are eager to engage with you and they’ll want you to succeed. They’ll be more forgiving when you stumble in your presentation and will accept your suggestions without much defense.
If you’re new to deliberate rapport building, there’s a chance you’ll find yourself forcing it and that’s okay for now. Give yourself some room to grow and find your personal style of rapport building. You should foremost be sincere with your prospects and customers – it does nobody any good if you’re obviously trying to earn brownie points. To create rapport with someone you need to do it so that it’s unconsciously received by them, or else it will be received as insincere.
I will aim to create a list that serves people in all types of sales environments. Whether that’s on the phone, in person or online. Here’s 10 ways to start building rapport in sales today:
#1 Introduce Yourself with a Friendly Gesture
Sounds simple enough, but it’s quite possibly the most important move on this list as first impressions are sacred. You only get one shot at this so smile and shake hands. Ask them about themselves, and genuinely take interest in what they have to say.
Online, you may not be able to shake hands but in your bio picture you can smile. You might not be able to ask them about themselves right at the top of your writing, but if it’s a blog post you can ask for their opinions in the comments. You can introduce yourself with a nice gesture in your email campaign by starting your email with a ‘Hi friends, I hope your weekend was great’. Landing pages are often your first impression in the digital realm, so make sure they’re landing somewhere nice.
#2 Be Completely Authentic
Okay, maybe this is the most important move because you can ruin a great first impression if you are caught being insincere. You needn’t create a sales persona to build rapport, and unless you’re the worlds’ greatest actor it’s likely noticeable when you’re not just being yourself.
Relax and get comfortable being yourself, while selling. This is key and a major strength for you in sales because your clients will recognize your congruence and they’ll be drawn to it.
#3 Be Confident and Speak Simply
Can you remember a time when someone wanted to be liked and ‘tried hard’ only to appear needy and desperate? Don’t be that person! Remember the goal is to build rapport, not be a cheerleader or force a friendship, those tactics will only turn people off. Be confident and know why you’re there.
Likewise don’t insert big words where simpler words can be better understood. This again comes across as overcompensating for the lack of something, and neediness (in this case to prove your intelligence). Perhaps you’ve heard of this Princeton research paper that suggests needlessly using large words actually makes you appear less intelligent.
It’s ironically titled ‘Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly’.
#4 Be Direct & Get to the Point
There’s no need for a long speech in sales 99% of the time. If you’re selling something, do it proudly – don’t build up to it, start with it. Rather than saying
In today’s fast paced world it’s hard to find time to do the things you want..
Our electric razor will free up 14 hours a month for the average shaver.
In the first example you are opening with a broad, generic bit that is virtually meaningless. Respect your prospects time and demonstrate that by getting to the point. They’ll pay attention and rapport will have been earned.
In person, you can make eye contact and avoid being fidgety. Let your clients know they’ve got your undivided attention and they will in turn give you theirs.
#5 Avoid Potentially Offensive Language
That dirty joke your buddy told you will surely win over your prospects, no? Yeah, no don’t do it. Stereotypes, politics and other polarizing topics should be avoided. Self-deprecating humor is a great way to go if you want to build rapport with a joke but don’t force it.
#6 Be Flexible & Responsive
Sometimes the people who you’re dealing with aren’t the people you imagined them to be. You show up in a suit and tie and they’re wearing daisy dukes and a wife beater, what do you do now? Loosen that tie and take your jacket off!
In fact, more often than not you won’t know exactly who you’re dealing with until you’re in the room or on the phone with them. Use your senses and adjust your approach to each individual you deal with.
The equivalent of this online would be A/B testing your landing pages. Likewise it’s not uncommon to use a website to generate leads that are then taken to phone, email or in person.
#7 Ask Your Prospect Questions
Asking questions that show interest is a great way to build rapport. Listen to what they say closely and respond appropriately. Opportunities will come up where you can inquire about them, no need to randomly ask if they like jazz music. Often clients will want to get right to business at first but loosen up after some technical stuff has been covered – that’s the perfect time to ask about them.
#8 Listen More Than You Talk
Now, don’t let the conversation wander – be directive, but don’t just pitch all day. The goal here is to engage your prospects, not annoy them. Have you ever been talking to a friend and get the feeling they’re just wasting for you to stop talking so they can say something? How could they be interested in what I’m saying if they’re just waiting for me to stop talking?
Listen actively, recognize their issues as real problems and show empathy, and again ask inquisitive questions that communicate your interest in their unique situation. When you do talk, remember you’re talking to a person just like you on the other side of that communication. So don’t give them a scripted response, give them your message as if you were talking to your best friend who has the same problem they have.
#9 Find Common Experiences to Make Your Point
Remember that story about your friend who’s waiting for you to stop talking so they can start talking? This is a pretty common experience and it helped me demonstrate the cons of robotic, scripted selling. It helped because it relates an abstract concept to a common experience you likely have a memory or collage of memories about.
When you can tap into someone’s memories and real experiences and reasonably bring that into your presentation, you can build massive rapport. It’s personal, it’s human, it’s relatable, and it’s undeniable because it’s their memory. Make sure the common experience actually relates to the situation at hand or you could lose credibility here.
#10 Embrace Objections
Your prospects will have objections and concerns, and you’ve got two options: Balk at their objections and be quick to correct them or show you think their concerns are reasonable and be ready to respond concisely with the proper information.
Remember that rapport is largely about subconsciously communicating that you understand your client’s viewpoints. If you balk at their objections or take a matter-of-fact approach, you’re emphasizing your differences rather than your likeness.
It’s important to be able to demonstrate your knowledge of industry and your product, certainly. But you’ve got an opportunity to connect with your prospects in a much more meaningful way by using these 10 techniques to build rapport in sales.
I hope you’ve learned some strategies to build rapport in sales, and that you’ll put these strategies to good use.
When you build rapport with someone, you’re not doing anything dubious or insincere – you’re facilitating quality communication. You can use these methods to make all of your communications better.
In fact, I’d encourage you to use these same techniques when communicating with people you know. A little active listening and relating goes a long way. Remember, rapport building is all about demonstrating that you understand the other person. Who doesn’t want to be understood?
Do you have any great rapport building strategies to share? Let me know in the comments!