What is the foundation of successful selling? Simply put, building a great rapport with clients. Who doesn’t want sales! To a large extent, the business thrives, only when sales thrive.
Your sales force is the mainstay for your business growth. They are the revenue churning machines, which then enables various other developments within the organisation.
A well-known quote aptly says, “It takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one”. How true. The underlined message here is, as a business we don’t want to lose even a single customer, do we?
How do we ensure we build rapport with customers – old and new?
Whilst talking to a colleague of mine, I simply posed the question: Give me one example of great rapport building and one of poor rapport building that you have experienced. She gave me an example of each, which looked apt to mention here, and are great examples. You will see what I mean.
Great rapport building: Our Company had a particular portal requirement. I spoke to a Marketing and Sales Representative by the name of Pratap, who understood our niche need. It was not an ‘on the shelf’ requirement, but he listened to us patiently and agreed to do his best to help us. Ideally I would not expect the person to get back so quickly considering the difficulty, but Pratap’s approach changed my perception. He spoke to his team and together they came up with a package that was not only cost effective but suited our requirement to the ‘t’. He also ensured we got sufficient training to use the product. There were follow ups to see that we liked the product. Moral: Our Company decided that we would be buying additional services from them in future too. Great rapport building ensuring return clientele and references.
Poor rapport building: My colleague wanted to hire laptops and contacted a relevant agency’s sales team. The concerned sales person, attended the call, took down the details and ensured he would get back with the required quote. A couple of days went by, but no call, no quote. After repeated follow-ups, a quote was sent without any scope for negotiation. Frustrated, she gave it up and contacted another service provider. Moral: The Company lost business and ‘word or mouth’ publicity.
Building rapport doesn’t come easy. The sales person has to work towards achieving it. Once the lead is generated or a lead calls with a certain requirement, the sales person will need to do some research on the prospect and the prospect’s requirement. Rapport building is a process in itself and requires an amount or pre-planning. Before meeting the client, it would be advisable to prepare some useful questions and observations. Checking the client’s website, or social sites, if any, would also be a great idea. It would help knowing a little about your client’s business. It could give you headway during the initial meet or the negotiation process.
Some aspects we have to keep in mind while building rapport:
Don’t fake it –Your enthusiasm, knowledge and passion must be genuine. Today’s customer is well-informed. Authenticity and transparency is what will help in closing sales and is much appreciated by customers. Honesty helps a lot in rapport building with prospects and customers.
Positive attitude – It is not necessary to adopt any accent or tone. You will be more at ease and confident when you use what is yours. Just add a genuine smile and friendly voice. Approach your prospect with a positive attitude, a firm handshake and make eye contact. Half your work is done when your approach is confident.
Be a good listener – Listening well to what your customer asks or talks will make them feel valued. Do not be self-focussed. Genuinely appear interested when they talk. The more they share with you the closer you are to making a sale. If not a sale, then you will definitely gather goodwill for your company or brand.
Laying your heart out on a plate – Don’t seem too needy. It puts most people off. People don’t like to be pushed. Follow-up, but only to the extent that it does not seem too conspicuous. You cannot force rapport. Being over-friendly is a no-no. Show interest, not desperation.
Know your client – As indicated earlier, research your client, their products and services and their requirements before the meeting, so you go well prepared and pose the right questions. Don’t spend too much time chatting, get your point across at the right moment. Nobody likes their time wasted.
Using POWER WORDS – Language plays a huge role in sales and marketing. Matching language patterns, using similar words as the client, to describe various aspects in the conversation creates a positive impact and increases rapport. The person feels understood and connected with you.
Create TRUST and UNDERSTANDING –Most important is creating trust that you will give them a good product. Being sensitive to what the client wants; develop the ability to see the client’s point of view and get them to understand yours.Above all, be consistent in what you say.
Successful interactions to establish a great rapport is possible when you understand your own mind and the minds of people you interact with. Neuro-lingustic Programming or NLP has the potential to help your sales force establish and maintain rapport by upping the human connect. People are more likely to buy from someone they can relate to, rather than someone they are not comfortable with. NLP uses techniques that are quite subtle but powerful in its usage, with measured effects. A great relationship building tool, NLP believes in the power of agreement by emphasizing on similarities, in-spite of all the differences two people can bring. Being with the other person in his space; focussing on ‘what we have in common’ and establishing rapport. Agreement gives birth to great rapport building and cooperation.
If you emphasize the differences, you will find it hard to establish rapport. By emphasizing commonalities, resistance and antagonism will generally disappear, and cooperation will improve.” ………NLP mentor