The Importance of Good Rapport in Sales
Rapport (noun): “a friendly, harmonious relationship,” especially one “characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.” -Merriam Webster Dictionary
Rapport is the foundation of any relationship. And a salesperson’s relationship to the client is no exception. Even if you feel as though you don’t have much in common with your prospects, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the effort to establish good rapport with them. Not only will you feel better about yourself, you will make your prospects more comfortable. This will increase your sales and put more money in your pocket.
Here is why building good rapport as a salesperson is so crucial to your success.
A recent Gallup poll found that just 30% of American workers, and 35% of managers, are engaged at work. That means just one in every three people are excited about coming to work each day*.
That same poll determined that rapport is a major influence in engagement. Managers who work for engaged leaders are 39% more likely to be engaged and employees who work for engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged; thus, if you haven’t built good rapport, the odds of your prospect being excited to talk to you and make deals with you are very, very slim.
*So go out of your way to give your prospects something to be excited about; otherwise, they’re probably dying of boredom on a daily basis.
Sales don’t take place if the customers have no interest in listening to what you have to say. That’s another reason why building rapport is vital: it makes your prospects desire to hear what you have to say (or sell). Put yourself in their shoes. Would you rather give your credit card number to someone who’s never gone out of their way to make you feel appreciated or asked you anything about yourself—or from someone that you believe authentically cares about you? It’s only common sense that establishing rapport establishes the act of authentic communication—which leads to more sales and more money for you.
Lack of loyalty means that you have failed to establish a good relationship with your prospects. That means you haven’t taken the time to ask them anything about themselves. The only way to figure out what someone wants (this is crucial in business) is to take the time to get to know them; thus, you will have a better sense of what their motivations are and what they intend to buy. Take the time to learn what’s on your prospects’ minds. By going out of your way to engage with them, you will establish loyalty.
Not only does good rapport increase your sales, it also makes your prospects enjoy interacting with you. Establishing that you care about people will simply just make them happier. And when they’re happier, they’re a lot more likely to make purchases from you.
Here are eleven tips to build good rapport with your prospects.
If you have an idea of what to talk to a prospect about to establish rapport, but for even one second, feel that the subject matter might be inappropriate, simply don’t say anything and wait until you think of a better subject before you try to establish rapport. You will often think of things to talk about naturally—so don’t stress if you’re unable to think of something in the moment. You do not want to offend your prospects (or make them feel uncomfortable) in any capacity.
Establishing good rapport often involves discussing personal matters that are non-work related; thus, wait until a sale is complete or wait until the very end of a one-on-one encounter to let the good conversation flow. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot in the middle of a sale by going offtrack.
If you happen to overhear or see online that a prospect is interested by a subject that also interests you—make a note of it and bring it up at a later date. The prospect will most likely be flattered to talk about what you jotted down. And you’ll feel good about saving that piece of information for the exact right time. Whatever you do, don’t let the prospect see that you’ve made notes. Not only would that be creepy, it would dismantle the perception that you are authentic.
Have you ever shared a moment with a stranger in which the two of you found some sort of common ground? Perhaps the two of you were from the same city or liked the same sports team. You most likely appreciated that stranger and held the person in high regard. Well, the same situation can take place with your prospect. One single moment, even a very brief one, can dramatically boost rapport. That moment will oftentimes blossom into a better relationship in which rapport is effortlessly maintained on a routine basis.
Everyone is unique. The more you get to know your prospects, the more rapport will be built. It doesn’t matter if prospects have nothing in common with you. They will simply appreciate that you took the time to get to know them. or example, ask how their opera singing lessons are going even if you hate opera.
Enjoying the same snack or drinking the same flavor of soda is not nearly as powerful as having read the same book or traveled to the same country. The more meaningful commonality, the more likely it is that good rapport will quickly be established. Keep it simple—but that doesn’t mean the conversation can’t be deep.
Your prospects will be able to tell if you’re not being sincere—and even if they can’t—being fake isn’t worth the risk of lowering morale and rapport. That’s the last thing you want. Always be genuine with your prospects and clients. They’ll recognize it and appreciate it.
Genuine compliments take no time away from your work and go a long way to make someone feel good. If you like their office, a prospect’s website, or even their tie, tell them. If your prospect achieved something recently—congratulate them on their success. They will be flattered and you will build rapport.
Remember that not everybody likes to make small-talk as much as you do. Be mindful of which prospects love to chit-chat and which seem to want to keep a business-only conversation. Reading people is no easy task, but do the best you can to ensure you’re treating prospects the way they prefer to be treated.
Yes, you always want to be yourself. We all do. But don’t go too far with it. For example, if you’re motorcycle enthusiast, don’t show up at a suit and tie-style company wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt. You will lose rapport in the blink of an eye. Do whatever it takes to blend in if it means that good rapport is either established or maintained.
You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to make your prospects laugh. Simply don’t take your business interactions too seriously—especially with established clients—and allow for some laughs to take place. Read people to determine how easily you can make them laugh. For example, if you have a prospect who’s rather giggly and upbeat and you know he/she likes dogs—tell that person a brief story about when your dog chewed on the new couch you bought last weekend. A little humor goes a long way and helps establish good rapport.
-Did you have a good weekend? Did you do anything interesting?
-It was great to hear about your background in the meeting. But now that we have more time, here at lunch, can you tell me more about what made you decide to start your own business?
-I must say, I really like the artwork on your walls. If you don’t mind me asking, where in town can I purchase art like this?
-How long have you worked at your company?
-Are you from this area? Where did grow up? Wow! I’ve never been there but I would like to visit someday.
-Welcome to Dallas. Have you been here before? Where are you staying? Let me know if you need a list of good places to eat nearby.
In summary, don’t look at building good rapport as a hassle. It’s really not a complicated process at all. It does require a little forethought and preparation—but all of your sales do. Again, one single moment of finding common ground with a prospect can tremendously increase the chances of doing business with that person again. Not everybody is going to like you. And that’s okay. Just be yourself and be sincere. And you’ll sincerely appreciate when your pockets fill up with increased revenue.