Most sales reps know the importance of building rapport. But many make minimal effort beyond common pleasantries, hoping the value of what they’re selling will carry them on to a sale. This is a big mistake because when it comes down to it, how much the buyer does (or doesn’t) like you will affect the sale. According to a recent article by RAIN Group’s Mike Schultz, the more rapport you build, the more trustworthy you become in the eyes of buyers. “The fundamental question of whether someone likes you or doesn't like you drives a significant portion of how your selling process and the buyers' decision process will go,” he explains.
He introduces four principles of rapport that reps should master. Each principle plays an important part in establishing rapport, and Schultz explains why it’s worth the effort to create.
Principle #1: Empathy
You’ve likely heard of empathy, but do you really know what it is? Schultz begins by defining empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In order to know how others are feeling, you must get him or her talking. This is important to do because not only will you learn how the prospect is feeling, people also love talking about themselves. You also get to show off your listening skills. Once you have a clear understanding of how the prospect feels, demonstrate empathy by putting yourself in his or her shoes. “If you can get people talking about themselves, you've made some progress,” Schultz writes. “If you can show them that you actually listened to them, they'll be strongly inclined to like you.”
Principle #2: Authenticity
To have rapport with a prospect, they must see you as authentic. It’s tough to like anyone who seems phony or fake, especially someone who is trying to sell you something. More than ever, you need to be genuine. Want a quick tip? Try smiling slowly. It may sound odd, but Schultz reports that actual research shows the link between a slow smile and boosting authenticity.
Head over to Schultz’s article to read the remaining two principles, as well as RAIN Group’s own research that supports them. Try not to think of building rapport as a necessary evil; it is an investment in your relationship AND your future sale.