Like it or not, we all have to deal with people to achieve any degree of sales success. The more successful we are in getting others to cooperate with us, and the more people we can call our allies, the greater our chances are of achieving success.
The dynamics of human relations are pretty simple: If you relate poorly to others, success will come hard. If you relate well to others, success will come easier. Selling is hard enough, why make it any more difficult? Building relationships with those we hope to sell to will make the entire process much easier. One of the greatest principles of sales is to understand, regardless if we think otherwise, people buy from people they believe, like and trust.
The ability to create rapport is the ability to create a harmonious relationship based on mutual trust and emotional ties. It is the art of making someone feel comfortable and accepted. It is friendship and camaraderie; it is a special bond or kinship. It is knowing someone is there to help you achieve your dreams and goals. In applying the principle of rapport building, your overall goal should always be to simply make the other person feel important, or at least liked and understood.
The rapport building process begins even before you open your mouth. The moment someone sets their eyes on you, they are sizing you up and making lightning fast judgments. At first, people will listen to what they see, not what they hear. Other people will judge you by how you stand, how you walk, how you shake hands, how you smile, and how you sit.
Those people who have mastered the art of rapport, know the visual can be misleading. To get past the visual judgments, you must employ the art of conversation. It begins simply with the sharing of information. It is generally best to ask a few personal questions enveloped by their employment. For example, you could ask how long they have worked for the company and what did they do before their current employment. You could also ask them to explain what their current responsibilities entail. As they reveal more personal information in their answers you can then ask more personal questions. When a prospect shares personal experiences with you, all traditional barriers have been removed and the relationship begins to develop. Always try to learn something about the person that you can relate to an experience in your own past, an event, a mutual acquaintance, or some other shared history. You can find some common element with everyone.
Being an active listener is more important in building rapport than being an active speaker. I learned this lesson years ago when I attended the annual meeting for the American Iron and Steel Society held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A business associate and I decided we would meet as many people as possible during the cocktail hour and then report our success when we convened for dinner. I went one way around the large ballroom and he went the other. My objective was to encourage people to talk about themselves. In other words, put the focus of attention on them. I asked questions which encouraged their responses, while minimizing my own reply to their questions. I listened to them talk about themselves and they loved it. After all, how often do people get to tell their personal story without being interrupted? About an hour later my business associate and I compared notes. He said he had spoken with dozens of people that evening that said they knew me and spoke of me as a person they greatly admired. Before that evening I hadn’t met or had conversations with any of those people.
If you have a relaxed view of the world and have a sense of humor, it will engender people’s confidence in you. Confidence builds respect, and respect builds trust. The ability to laugh at one’s self has a deep, psychological appeal to others. It breaks down the barrier of pride and makes you appear just as human as your listeners.
One of the hardest situations in which to establish rapport is the telephone conversation, because you cannot see the face of the other person with whom you are speaking. Even if you know the person on the other end of the line, you cannot see his or her facial expressions, which can provide you with a mountain of information. If you don’t know the person with whom you are speaking, you are even more handicapped.
Building rapport over the phone is difficult, but can be mastered. Before you even pick up the telephone and place your call, the first thing you should do is put a smile on your face. Although the other person cannot see your smile, the warmth and friendliness will come through. Identify yourself immediately and explain the purpose of the call. It’s important to be businesslike and considerate. Too friendly will be unprofessional; too businesslike will be considered rude.
Never talk down to people. You’ll get further with a person if he or she thinks you care. Even if it takes time, you should always try to create an atmosphere of caring. It is a basic need of all people to feel the caring of others. Rapport building is a basic human-relations skill that fills this need, and along the way will further your own goals and objectives. Rapport building is as simple as making a person feel comfortable in your presence.
Applying these 10 tips will help you create a good first impression and establish lasting rapport:
1. Dress well and to the other person’s expectations.
2. Smile when you first see the person.
3. Establish and maintain eye contact.
4. Be the first to say hello and extend your hand.
5. If the meeting is in your office or home, greet the person at your door.
6. Deliver a sincere greeting.
7. Use the person’s name.
8. Don’t speak too softly or loudly.
9. Do the necessary homework about the person you are meeting.
10. Do more listening than talking (Listen 70% of the time).
With a little fine-tuning, anyone can become a person of warmth, concern, and charm. By learning the art of rapport building and making it a part of your everyday life, you will become a person who makes friends, influences colleagues, and rises to the top. In the world of sales, always remember, “PEOPLE BUY FROM PEOPLE THEY BELIEVE, LIKE AND TRUST”.