One of my favorite things to do in this industry is Rapport Building.
Rapport is the foundation for building relationships. Few people would argue that sales people, professionals, and leaders who have great relationships tend to have great success. As you’re building rapport, think of it less as a mechanical part about how you should lead a meeting, and more as an investment in building a relationship.
Building rapport is the ability to relate to others in a way that creates trust and understanding. When you have a rapport with someone there is a connection, a bond & a feeling of being “in tune” with or “on the same page”. This is so important if you are looking to grow your business.
To invest in relationships, make sure you attend to the 4 Principles of Rapport:
- Empathy: Be curious. Listen. Care.
- Authenticity: Be real.
- Similarity: Find common ground.
- Shared Experience: Interact.
Below are 7 helpful tips on how to build rapport.
Be genuine. Before the first day of school, first jobs, camp, and any family get-together, our Parents always said, “Just be yourself and everything will be fine.” This lesson applies to generating rapport with prospects and customers. Don’t try to be anything you are not, create a new persona, or adopt a “sales-like” tone. Relax, smile, and go in with a positive attitude. Good things will follow. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” There are people already out there following you and liking what they see. It is so much easier that putting up a front.
Be warm and friendly. Chilly people get chilly reactions from other people. Approach rapport building with the intent to be warm and friendly. Smile, give a firm handshake, make eye contact, and engage.
Show interest. No surprise to anyone, people are self-focused. This is quite helpful to those of us in selling because we need to learn about our prospects before we can provide the best solutions. People want to feel like they have an opening to share what they’re thinking, including their desires, fears, and problems. The more genuinely interested you appear the more relaxed and willing to share they’re likely to be.
Don’t seem too needy. Most of us know someone who wanted to be liked, so he “tried hard,” but it didn’t work. In trying to be liked, he appeared needy and conspicuous. You cannot force rapport. Show interest, but don’t act subservient, overly friendly, or too pushy or you will only turn the other person off. Don’t come on like gangbusters.
Give genuine compliments. Sycophants get nowhere, but genuine compliments are endearing. If you like the office, someone’s web site, or are impressed with their book, say so. If your prospect had a recent accomplishment, relay your authentic congratulations. This can go a long way towards building rapport and they’ll appreciate it.
Calibrate the rapport to “just right.” New salespeople are often overly sensitive to the time of a potential buyer. They often think, “I have an hour for this meeting and she’s a CEO of a mid-size company. I need to use the whole time to get my points across. No time for chitchat.” So he dives right in with no ice breaking conversation and it doesn’t go well.
Others can spend too much time chatting, and the prospect might get antsy to get down to business. Do your best to read the other person and find the right amount of rapport-focused conversation.
Read the culture. Always be yourself but, at the same time, you can adjust your approach to the other person and company. Don’t change who you are to fit the culture, but be aware of how the culture works and how it best responds.
The best way to build rapport is just be yourself – it is as easy as that. Over thinking can create unnecessary complications in your business and that will only cause people to avoid you. Be yourself – trust that and you will reap huge rewards.
Go out and build rapport!