The first impression is always important, and for a salesperson heading into their initial face-to-face prospect meeting, it is crucial. For some, this first interaction may create uneasiness. However, the sales professional who becomes an expert in building rapport will display confidence in themselves and their product or service and ultimately have a leg up when it comes time to ask for the order. Those that are most successful at creating rapport often find that those relationships lead to “Trusted Advisor” status with the prospect.
Here are a few tips in preparing for that first prospect engagement that will help forge a solid relationship throughout the sales journey and produce the best outcomes, be it a face-to-face meeting or a remote presentation.
Look for probable connections
A discussion around mutual likes or common acquaintances is an excellent way to initiate a conversation. Social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter will give you enough clues about your prospects’ likes and interests. You may have attended college in the same state or athletic conference or lived in the same city at some point. These familiarities will serve you well during the rapport-building exercise.
News or sports events are a good starting point
Latest news or recent/upcoming sporting events are great icebreakers and will often lead to a conversation that enables a fruitful exchange of views or rivalries. In your discussion, be compassionate and empathetic as these qualities will be viewed positively by your prospect and pave the way for a better bond.
Common interests are an excellent way of bridging the distance between you and your prospect. Discuss their hobbies, a recent vacation, or other non-business activities to advance the conversation. It may be travel, music, charitable activities, or even pets. Referring back to social media websites will provide you enough clues about your prospect’s interests or hobbies.
Listen and be non-judgmental
Active listening will bring you closer to your prospect. The ability to listen with interest will help you gain trust, particularly when it comes time for your prospect to divulge sensitive information. Active listening also means understanding inflection of voice and overall tone of prospects’ message. Listening with an open mind, being non-judgmental, and showing curiosity makes them feel important.
Accept opinions and be proactive
In order to gain the trust of your prospects accept their viewpoints with an open mind and without judgment. It’s also important to be proactive and responsive in your communications and uncover the ideal ways to make your prospect feel more comfortable and engaged.
The impact of a close and powerful rapport is an indispensable ingredient for selling. A rapport makes the prospect comfortable and a sales pitch lacking in rapport is so uncomfortable that your prospects may not buy at all, even if they need the product. On the contrary, if the salesperson has a good rapport with the prospect and he doesn’t need or want the product, there are good chances that he will buy.
In reality, the salespersons are able to create quick rapport with the personality types that match with theirs. When they meet the personality types that differ from their own, they are unable to create that connection easily. The best way to create a connection with diverse personalities and take control of the rapport building process is to be more like your prospect. It necessarily means acting or thinking in the way or having the behavioral flexibility to act similarly with different personalities. It would be even more effective if you match the body language and mirror the behavior of your prospect in a face-to-face meeting. Building a rapport would seem simple if you appear to be similar to your prospect using the above ways to develop a mutual liking towards each other.