Today’s Sales Insight blog post is going to look at the most effective ways to build rapport with your customers.
All sales people understand the importance of building rapport, with phrases such as ‘people buy from people they like’ often heard in the industry.
And yet I feel many sales people are missing a trick or two here…
Shared interests go a long way
In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini suggests that ‘liking’ is enhanced when we:
- Find similar people
- Pay them genuine compliments
- Cooperate in the pursuit of mutual goals
In sales, we are unable to restrict ourselves to only working with those who are similar to us, however we can express an interest in their interests. A little research in advance of a meeting can therefore give us clues into the hobbies and interests of a customer that can open up the opportunity for valuable small talk before getting down to business.
Don’t overestimate the value of small talk either. However, it’s a fine line to walk, with research suggesting that customers want to engage in far less of this than a sales person might think, so address the balance carefully.
Make sure you create a good first impression
Customers are also searching for clues that you’re a credible individual and someone who can be trusted; a decision usually made within the first few seconds of meeting.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink suggests that a first impression is made in the blink of an eye. It’s crucial therefore for a sales person to be professionally prepared. It may seem obvious, but get to the meeting on time, dress appropriately, and seem welcoming and friendly.
Maintain rapport throughout your conversation
To maintain rapport though a meeting with a customer, always aim to be interested in them rather than interesting yourself. Use your questioning skills and demonstrate a genuine curiosity and care for the customer’s issues. Encourage them to have the greatest share of voice; people like people who listen and empathise with their situation.
Follow up to show your credibility
Finally, continue building rapport after the meeting by following up with any commitments you’ve agreed to. This will demonstrate you are reliable as well as credible.
Always remember, nothing breaks rapport quicker than a lack of trust.
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