Is it really that important ?
Why do we look to get comfortable with a client early in a sales call ?
Do we really need to ?
It's not mentioned in many sales books.
It's certainly not covered in any detail in the books that do mention it either.
This is really surprising since Sales research has shown that over 90% of the sales process is based on having a good rapport with the prospect.
Before we can try to talk about how we can satisfy our prospect’s needs, we have to get him prepared to listen to us and reply to our questions.
We do this by getting him to trust us -- by developing a connection.
There are some that say that a buyer is under tension in the buy / sell process and that it's very difficult for a person to withstand task tension and relationship tension at the same time, hence the need to ease the relationship tension by creating sales rapport.
Some are even more adamant that rapport is required,
"Too many contemporary selling models assume the
customer or prospect will welcome you and talk freely with you. That assumption is naive" ( Duane Lakin, "The Unfair Advantage in Sales"
Did you ever meet someone with whom you just clicked?
Someone who was so much like you that you practically knew what he was thinking?
How comfortable did you feel with that person?
Did you trust him?
Chances are that you have very high rapport with that person.
The key to rapport is this:
People trust those most like themselves.
It seems that people are most comfortable with that which is familiar, whether it be food, music, or human beings.
Trust precedes the sale !
Interestingly, many hypnotists define rapport as " the uncritical acceptance of suggestion ".
And as a salesperson It'd be nice if people just accepted your suggestions.
Often a sales trainer will tell you to search for the common denominator between you and the prospect.
They suggest you look for an activity or interest that you share with your client.
The idea being, if you create the appearance of similarity, the other person is inclined to grant you credibility. And it works to some extent on some occasions.
However, the search for the common denominator is often ineffective.
The reason is simple : IT IS TOO OBVIOUS.
And if you get caught the client smells manipulation and becomes increasingly resistant.
Quite apart from the issue of perceived manipulation, if you have ever used the common ground approach you will know that it is often difficult to maintain connection when you switch back to business talk.
Surely you would have noticed this?
You are chatting away to a prospect and happily discussing golf or something similar. And you say, we'd better get down to business.
And then, all of a sudden, the whole atmosphere in the room changes.
There exists a void between social rapport and sales rapport.
Granted this may diminish over time but what are you to do when you are first getting to know the buyer ?
There is also little doubt that rapport is necessary for a Positive outcome to take place in a business meeting.
Do you doubt that ?
Joe Girard was named the number one salesperson in the world for 12 years running by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Joe is adamant that you sell yourself first.
Every year Joe used to send out a Christmas card and a birthday card to anyone who had ever bought a car from him (and he sold a lot more than anyone else).
This is a clear example of maintaining the rapport that he built in the initial sale.
(By the way, Joe's action could also be called "keep in touch marketing" and if you looked at the practice from the viewpoint of Cialdini's Principles of Influence you could say he was utilising the Principle of Reciprocity (he remembered their birthday).)
Why would Joe have gone to all that trouble ?
You see Joe knew that successful salespeople have a knack for making people feel important.
Joe understood the value of maintaining the trust and connection he established early on in the selling process.
For you see, it really doesn't matter how knowledgeable you are about your product line or how many closing techniques you have mastered, unless you earn your prospect's trust and confidence you are not going to make the sale.
Also, Richard Bandler (therapist, salesperson, hypnotist and trainer) says,
"Get Rapport first. Without it they're wasting your time".
OK, so we need rapport.
How do we get it without "finding common ground" ?
The way to guarantee you don't get caught out or have to deal with the void between social rapport and sales rapport is to use UNCONSCIOUS rapport building skills.
That way you can ask questions about their business while you build rapport, thus building rapport in a work context.
How do you learn about these UNCONSCIOUS techniques ?
Well if you are successful at selling there's a good chance you already use some of these techniques, unconsciously (which, by the way, is the best way to employ them).
If you are not selling successfully or have a particular troublesome client you may want to learn more about them.
Let me offer a story to demonstrate.
A colleague of mine once said to me,
" You really don't like Joe Citizen, do you".
"Why do you say that ?", I asked.
"I can always tell when you are talking to him on the phone, you sound so bored."
Now, I didn't think Joe was boring at all.
He had a wealth of knowledge in his area of manufacturing.
I listened intently when he spoke because it was often a learning experience for me.
So, why did I sound bored when he was on the phone?
Not long after that I was trained in some of these unconscious rapport building techniques and guess what, matching the speed and tone of your client's speech is one of them.
And, of course, Joe spoke with a slow and measured tome often associated with a professor.
So, I was building rapport and didn't even know I was doing it.
Sales Rapport is really very important to YourSalesSuccess and could make a big difference to your sales if you learn the skills and apply them.
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