This past week I was teaching a class about presentations when I said, “Make sure you build rapport” to a group of salespeople for like the millionth time. To my defense building rapport is really important. People will not hire you if they don’t trust you and part of that trust building are those first moments of interaction when a potential client is sizing you up. If you appear standoffish or unauthentic they will make a negative judgment about you and you will be toast.
So all the work you did to get the lead just vanished. Bummer.
Although I have often given tips (i.e. make eye contact, a strong handshake), these tips are really cursory and don’t really provide details. So the purpose of this blog is to provide you with specific actions to create rapport.
Let’s start with the question, “What is rapport?” The not so technical definition is to “hit it off” or “clicking” with someone. On occasion this happens easily but most times this is a methodical series of steps. Below is a list of activities you can do to promote rapport.
1. Google Them – Yes, I am suggesting that you look up your client to learn things about them. Where did they go to school? What do they like to do? Often you can get some insight into them that may be important to establishing common denominators between the two of you. A few times a salesperson will comment to me, “Isn’t that stalking?” No. By the way, they have googled you.
2. Send a Personal Promoter – A Personal Promoter is information about you that may be uncomfortable to share in person BUT is important for them to know. Examples may be charity work that you perform, your resume, testimonials. The Personal Promoter can be in the form of a brochure, an email presentation, or a folder. This is a concept that is particularly important if you are competing for the business. It can make the difference in getting hired.
3. Shake Off Your Day – Stresses are happening in our life all the time. We collect those through the day and it affects our mood. Before going into a sales presentation ritualize an action that helps you shake off the negative. Over the years I’ve heard salespeople talk about something as simple as taking a deep breath. One expressed that they rub their earlobes. Personally, I always had a mantra that was useful to me, “I want the best for them.” This mantra helps me to focus my intention and leave my worries behind.
4. Lay Your Eyes on Each Person – You may be thinking, “What on earth does that mean?” It’s a concept taught to me years ago by a skilled salesperson. As you are introduced to each person place your eyes on them, hold for a moment, and smile. After they have made eye contact with you move on to the next person. The important thing is that the two of you had a “moment”.
5. Listen Carefully and Reflect – I find listening one of the toughest skills mainly because most salespeople are problem solvers. However great strides can be made by using these words, “If I have heard you effectively…” By reflecting the other person’s words you accomplish two things: clarify your understanding and demonstrate listening. This can be very powerful.
6. Mirror Pace and Tone – You may know this skill by “modeling” where you change the pace in which you speak and tone to mimic the listener. This process helps the other person feel more comfortable with you quicker.
7. Consider What to Wear – Your goal is to help your prospect to feel comfortable. Consider this when you chose your clothing. If for example, you are going to a farm for a listing appointment, a suit and tie my not be appropriate. The point here is don’t just unconsciously dress.
8. Be Authentic – All of these tips mean nothing without this. If your value system is not aligned with your service/product then go home. People have an intuitive ability to identify a fake person. So here’s the test…ask yourself these questions. Are you in love with your product? Do you believe that anyone who doesn’t use your product is crazy? Do you believe what you are offering is the best for that person? If the answer is “yes” then congratulations. If you struggle with these questions, consider what actions you need to take to either begin feeling this way or find something else to sell.
Honestly, there’s lots of research about how to close this gap. In my book, “Pushy” the first half of the book is spent on this topic. But there are also many other books that would be beneficial as well. For example, “The Inner Game of Selling” by Ron Willingham.
Okay, so the question for you is which on these tips can you use (or should) in your next interaction? Think about it.
By Jo Magnum