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Marketing / Attracting new business

More to building rapport than meets the eye

When I introduce the subject of building rapport to clients I sometimes get the response “It's okay, I get on fine with people” and a look that says “no need to cover that, let's move on”. Well, not so quick!

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People often think of rapport as simply the ability to interact socially with people. Whilst social interaction skills are essential in business, building rapport is a deeper process which has a greater impact on your ability to attract more business.

If relationships are the foundation of sales then building rapport is the foundation of relationships and a finer appreciation of rapport can lead to a positive impact on your performance.

Building rapport is a process of establishing trust and understanding. If your prospect trusts you they are more likely to share information with you which gives you the opportunity to provide a tailored and unique solution to meet their needs.

Typically the more money involved, the greater the level of trust required. For example if you approach a prospect to sell them a $1 raffle ticket, a minimal level of trust is necessary, if you approach a prospect with a $1million deal, significantly more trust is needed.

"If your prospect trusts you they are more likely to share information with you which gives you the opportunity to provide a tailored and unique solution to meet their needs."

The essence of building rapport is to join the world of the other person before leading them into yours. Many sales approaches fail because people talk enthusiastically about what they have to offer rather than take the time to participate in or understand the world of the prospect. It is impossible to develop trust and understanding this way.

Want more articles like this? Check out the attracting new business section.

You can build rapport in different ways:

Through caring

By all means be passionate and enthusiastic about your product and services, but what your prospect really wants to know is that you care about THEIR issues. You can demonstrate that you want to understand their needs and issues through probing questioning and active listening techniques (such as paraphrasing at appropriate times).

Through content

Use the language, words, phrases and key issues from the world of your prospect not your own. The more research you do on your prospect the greater your opportunity to engage in a conversation in their world. Before any meeting I always have topics up my sleeve to discuss with the prospect based on prospect research.

Through dress

Dress for the audience that you approach. I have seen many prospects turned off simply because they look at the people across the table from then and think “we can’t work with them!” This is a particular danger for people who approach prospects who operate in a culturally different environment (i.e. not for profits approaching corporates).

So for your next meeting, make an effort to move into the world of your prospect. You will be pleasantly surprised at the result!

Richard Woodward

facilitates strategy workshops and planning days, and trains and coaches business development teams helping his clients to develop clear and effective business development strategies and attain the required skills, knowledge and attitudes to confidently develop business.

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