Written by Sean McPheat |
Rapport is the single most important thing to build during a meeting with a client. Without it, you run the risk of losing contact and trust. As a high-quality salesperson, you need to identify how to build rapport quickly, and with integrity.
Here are 5 ways that you can break rapport stone dead:
1. Don’t do your research. The fastest way to kill rapport and trust is to go into any meeting cold. With all the information available online these days—on company websites, in Google, on Facebook and on LinkedIn and other social media sites—it will kill you stone cold if you don’t have specific things to discuss during your meeting.
If you do appropriate research, you can ask specific questions that show you have something of value to offer the client. Your questions or comments on your research can drive the conversation forward. Without that research you offer nothing but your product knowledge and it takes longer to build rapport, because you have less in common to start with.
2. Prescribe your answer before diagnosing any problems. You know what I mean here. The salesperson who turns up, makes some small talk then opens up the laptop ready to present a pre-prepared presentation of their products and services that bear little relation to the challenges the client is really facing.
Your research should help you see what problems the client is facing, and your rapport can be built on what you know or can find out about the client’s business
3. Let the prospect take control of the meeting. There are many things clients want from their business partner, and one of them is to be educated about what is happening in their industry and within their competitive network. If you allow the client to take early control of the conversation, you run the risk of just being a sounding board and answering question after question, so the client just pumps you for information which you obediently regurgitate.
You should build rapport by telling the client what the agenda for the meeting is and keeping the subjects on a specific journey to achieve the goal of assisting them to provide solutions to their problems.
4. Ask questions that your competition are asking. If you want to sound like everyone else, ask questions that everyone asks. Things like ‘How is the downturn in business affecting you? Is that your family portrait? Tell me about your problems today’.
If you want to build rapport, ask quality questions specific to the company, industry, and person you’re speaking with. Ask questions they may not have thought of. Try to understand the prospect’s situation to determine if you are even the right person to help.
5. Don’t follow through on what you say. Trust and rapport is built overtime as you consistently meet your commitments. If you want to kill rapport, tell the prospect you’ll send him a proposal on Tuesday and then send it on Thursday, show up to your meeting 10 minutes late, and be sure not to include anything about the prospect and their situation in the proposal.
When it comes to building rapport there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each buyer has their own unique personality, work style, and preferences that influence how they like to buy and how they connect with sellers.
When you want to build rapport, you need to identify what the customer actually wants to see and hear from you. Be the kind of person that your client can trust by being the partner they want to work with. And resist the rapport-killers mentioned above, as you build trust and integrity with your new clients.
Originally published: 30 March, 2011
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