People buy from those that they like. It’s just a simple fact of sales. Think back – have you ever bought something from someone that you did not like? Probably not. That’s why master salespeople have perfected the art of rapport building.
Rapport is basically a fancy word for making a connection with the prospect. You’ll commonly hear that one of the most fundamentally important elements of the sales presentation is to simply make a friend with the prospect. In this step of your presentation, you have you make yourself as likable as possible.
However, it’s incredibly easy to get stuck in this part because it’s sometimes the most fun part. You can easily fall in to the trap of small talking with a prospect for 20 or more minutes. While you may think that this is good for making a friend, it can actually be destructive to your process. You can easily lose momentum that was built up in your previous introduction step.
Remember, you have limited time to speak to the prospect. If you spend 15 minutes talking about your favorite sports team, you run the risk of the prospect cutting your meeting short because they have something else to attend to.
That’s why this step needs to be carefully plotted out before you even call on your prospect.
There are a many different ways to build rapport with a prospect, but the few that I have found to be the most effective are light conversations, gift giving, and psychological mirroring.
A light conversation, otherwise known as small talk, is one of the most recognizable ways that you can build rapport. In fact, I’ll bet that when you first read the title “Rapport Building”, the first thought that popped in your head was how to effectively make small talk with the prospect.
The trick is that you want to make impactful small talk with the prospect, meaning that you want to talk about things that are both relevant and important to the prospect. If your prospect hates football, you don’t want to spend 5 minutes talking about how amazing you think the Falcons are going to be next year.
The best way to discover what’s important to a prospect is by asking lighthearted questions. You don’t want this to be an interrogation, so the questions should be conversational by nature. Ideally, you should be looking to uncover an interest or a viewpoint that you have in common.
You can ask about anything from the local sports team to the weather. It’s important to stay away from controversial topics that could either spark a debate or inflame the prospect, such as religion, politics, and any negative current events going on. Don’t forget to actually listen to what the prospect is saying!
It’s always a good idea to interject a certain level of lighthearted humor in the mix as well. It helps the prospect lower their defenses. If you are able to get the prospect to laugh (or at least smile), you’re on the right path.
Gift giving is one of those universal principles that salespeople rely on. In fact, I bet you have had someone do this to you without you even knowing it.
According to this article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, waiters and waitresses who give mints at the end of dinner receive significantly higher tips than those who do not.
The principle is known as reciprocity. If you give a gift to someone, they will have a feeling of obligation to you. Your gift does not have to be extreme either – it can be anything from a company pen to a cup of coffee. You can even consider a compliment to be a form of a gift.
This refers to intentionally getting “in sync” with the prospect. If you are “in sync” with your prospect, they will feel as if you two really are getting along and are connected. You can do this on an emotional level by empathizing with whatever it is they are saying and engaging them in their stories. You can do this on a posture level by mimicking their body language and energy. You can also do this on a tonal level by mirroring the tone of their voice.
If you are able to successfully do the above three things, the prospect should feel safe around you and will allow you to carry on a conversation about your product or service with them. Remember, people buy from those that they like, so be as likable as possible!
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