If there is one skill that can take you on the path to becoming a successful salesperson - it’s the art of building rapport with both prospects and existing customers.
In fact, it is this art that helps the top SDRs and AEs out there in building harmonious relationships and long-lasting connections, thus giving rise to a good network vital for their professional success.
So in this blog post, we will explore seven expert tips to help you ace the game of rapport building in sales. These techniques have been proven to work time and again, and by incorporating them into your sales approach, you'll be well-equipped to forge strong relationships with your customers and boost your sales performance.
What is rapport building in sales?
In sales, rapport building refers to the process of building cordial and cooperative relationships with another individual or business - it’s a form of gaining the other side’s trust through effective communication.
Rapport building forms the basis of every business, especially against the backdrop of digital business-building in today’s post-COVID-19 landscape.
If you fail to relate to your clients and their needs, forging a tie or creating a working relationship with them becomes challenging. And this makes rapport building in sales all the more important, because the better you know your prospect/client getting to know them, earning their trust, nurturing them, and converting them into buyers becomes easy.
Importance of building rapport in sales
Building rapport lays the foundation for trust, understanding, and a mutually beneficial relationship between the salesperson and the customer. Here are some key reasons why building rapport is crucial in the world of sales:
- Trust and credibility: Building rapport establishes trust, enhancing customers' belief in your product or service.
- Customer understanding: Rapport building uncovers valuable insights, helping you tailor your approach to address specific customer needs.
- Enhanced communication: Strong rapport enables effective communication, fostering open and honest discussions.
- Long-term relationships: Rapport building cultivates loyalty, leading to repeat purchases and customer referrals.
- Differentiation from competitors: Building rapport sets you apart, as customers prefer sellers they feel comfortable with and can relate to.
Now that the concept is clear, let's look at some tips that'll help you build a good rapport with your future customers👇
7 tips for rapport building in sales
1. Stay true to yourself (& to the customer!)
Authenticity is highly valued in today’s world - whether you’re selling yourself, or a product, it’s important for a customer to know the 'real thing'. In today’s dynamic business ecosystem, consumers have access to a lot of information, which makes them smell something fake from miles away. In this regard, it’s easiest to click with a customer and build trust by being authentic.
In sales, being ‘yourself’ is key to building rapport with a customer. Whether you’re talking about the features of your product, your key offerings, or even complimenting the customer, aim for an honest conversation supported by a positive attitude.
2. Solicit friendliness
Most people shy away from salespeople because of their pushiness. As a salesperson, your focus should be to get the right reaction from a prospective client - and the best way to do this is by being friendly.
Of course, being friendly doesn’t entail engaging in personal conversation or forcing niceness; it simply means ensuring positive body language - a firm handshake, and proper eye contact, and giving them the time and engagement they require to have a conversation.
Another great way to be friendly with your prospect is by asking them follow-up questions to understand their pain points in a conversational manner. If you actually listen, chances are you’ll have a lot more to discuss with your prospects.
3. Interest speaks louder than words
When prospecting for sales, avoid having tunnel vision. While the salespeople aim to close a deal, they sometimes forget to pay attention to their prospect’s needs.
Building rapport means being interested in what the client needs, not just what you need. You should be interested in the buyer’s experience and requirements to customize a solution that shows you’re listening to them and not just trying to sell your product.
Most buyers will want to be ‘heard’; as a salesperson, if you’re looking to build rapport in sales, you’ll need to make some effort to show your buyers you’re listening to them. Practice empathy to become more aware of what the buyer is saying, instead of being ready to make your pitch.
Be ready to discuss a buyer’s challenges and present them with solutions without following a sales script. It’ll show the buyer that you’re actually interested, and make them want to engage with you.
4. Uncover common ground
One of the best ways to build a quick rapport with a customer is by finding commonalities. The more that you appear relatable to a prospect, the higher the chances of them feeling comfortable and sharing more information with you.
Similarities bring people together and help foster stronger connections. Since interactions and connection-building are crucial in sales, finding some commonalities will help in taking a prospect from being a stranger to a friend and finally to a customer.
Tip: Uncovering common ground doesn’t only mean sharing a meal or a cup of coffee or finding out that you and the prospect share the same interests when it comes to sports; it’s about instilling a feeling of creating a shared experience. Help the prospect understand that you are both working towards the same challenges and goals, and it will help them feel more trusting towards you.
5. Avoid waffling around
When dealing with B2B sales prospects, there is one mantra you should always follow - to be precise, direct, and clear. Beating around the bush or giving fake compliments to your prospects will not get you far, but engaging in direct and genuine conversation will.
Waffling around equates to being insincere - a trait every salesperson should avoid when building rapport with a prospect. Go beyond superficial conversation or compliments, and try to talk about something you and the buyer actually care about.
Waffling isn’t only restricted to verbal communication - even when sending out emails, try to keep the communication direct so that there is little room for misinterpretation and more room for the prospect to understand your goals and asks. Directly communicating your needs is also a sign of confidence. It will take you far in terms of rapport building.
6. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it
According to communication experts, the best way to build rapport and trust is through your communication skills. It simply means that you should engage with the other side confidently and clearly, through not just words but a proper tone, and deliver the message in a way that solicits a positive reception.
When speaking to a prospect or client, ensure that there is proper eye contact, formal gesturing, and the right use of facial expressions - all of which contribute towards the other individual developing an impression of you and the business you represent.
7. Find a way to fit in
Finally, rapport building is all about finding a way to fit into the other person’s ecosystem - be it the country your prospect operates in, their culture, or even their style of communication. While we’re not asking you to change yourself to suit the needs of each client, the idea is to adapt to align yourself with each client’s culture so that you can maximize your chances of success.
For instance, if you speak to a prospect in France during their lunch break, they may take it negatively and cut you out before the rapport building even begins. It is because lunchtime is a sacred hour for them that you had accidentally encroached upon.
5 common mistakes to avoid in rapport building
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can enhance your rapport-building efforts and foster stronger connections with your customers:
- Lack of genuine interest: Failing to show genuine interest in the customer hinders rapport building. Engage actively, ask questions, and listen attentively.
- Overlooking non-verbal cues: Neglecting body language and facial expressions hampers rapport. Be mindful of non-verbal signals for effective communication.
- Dominating the conversation: Avoid talking excessively about your product. Focus on active listening and meaningful dialogue with the customer.
- Ignoring personalization: Don't use a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalize interactions by using the customer's name, referencing previous conversations, and tailoring recommendations.
- Neglecting follow-up: Building rapport is an ongoing process. Follow up with customers, provide support, and show continued interest in their satisfaction and success.
Parting thoughts: building rapport, building relationships
Building rapport in sales is an art that requires discipline. Successful salespeople are highly patient when it comes to understanding their clients, and each client’s needs, and meeting these needs with the right instincts and emotional intelligence. Use the above tips to hone the art of rapport-building and create more opportunities for your business.
Additionally, you can explore Outplay too. Its multi-channel engagement feature aids in building rapport by helping you engage with prospects on different sales channels. This enables you to create lasting business relationships, make big sales, and close deals more quickly. Start your 14-day free trial today or request a demo here.
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