Have you ever been on an initial sales call, and felt you just weren’t “hitting it off” with your prospect? Another term for “hitting it off” is rapport, and without it, independent consultants and business coaches can seriously jeopardize their chances of successfully closing a sale and building a strong future relationship.
Rapport is defined as a relationship marked by harmony, affinity and accord. Creating good rapport starts the first time you meet with a prospect. It’s that intangible chemistry that allows your prospect to open up and ask for what they want, and for you to uncover any possible concerns and objections in the course of discussion.
No one understands exactly why we hit it off with some people, and are repelled by others, and vice versa. We do know certain language and behaviors can leave even the toughest prospects wanting to learn more, rather than heading for the nearest exit!
Before you can create strong rapport with your prospects, the first step is to make sure you have confidence in your own services, and how they can meet your clients’ needs. If you have questions about finding the right audience and offering the right solutions, be sure to check out Rainwerks’ Packaged to ProsperSM online training group program. This training program helps consultants and coaches find their ideal market and package their services for maximum appeal.
Once you’re confident your products and services are the right fit for your prospect, it’s time to become a master rapport builder.
Non-Verbal Communication Sets the Stage
As a Communication Studies major in college, one key concept I learned very early was that non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal communication, if not more. You’ve heard the old adage: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it?” Well, that goes double when trying to build rapport and make a strong first impression.
Research tells us that you only have 7 seconds to make a strong first impression. Non-verbal and verbal cues send important messages to the prospect about how much you value the opportunity to speak with her and work together in the future.
Here are 10 ways to create a good first impression and build strong rapport with even the toughest client.
- Arrive early or on time for your first meeting. It blows your credibility when you show up late for a meeting, especially when it’s your first meeting. Being late can be taken as a lack of courtesy and respect, and it predisposes your prospect not to like you.
- Dress for success. Because you only have 7 seconds to create a good first impression you’ll want to assess the sales meeting carefully and wear the appropriate attire. If you’re meeting at a prospect’s office, it’s okay to call ahead of time and ask the receptionist what the dress code is.
- Genuinely smile: This one may seem obvious, but genuine smiles represent enthusiasm, and there’s no better way to build rapport.
- Greet the person by their first name. We all respond positively when our name is called, and greeting your prospect by name just creates a pleasant atmosphere and tone. It also shows you prepared well for the meeting.
- Make eye contact. Nothing kills rapport more than continuously looking away when your prospect is speaking with you.
- A strong handshake. New research by the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience suggests that a firm handshake makes a positive impact on business relationships, and it communicates confidence.
- It’s not about you. One of the best ways to block positive rapport is to continuously talk about yourself, your company and your products in the meeting. On the flipside, asking probing, open-ended questions helps you learn about their needs and find ways to solve their problems.
- Sit up straight. Our posture tells others what kind of mood we’re in, and slouching is not only bad for your back, it’s bad for business too.
- Know when the meeting is over. Rather than try and linger in a meeting too long, it’s better to read your prospect’s cues and realize when the meeting is wrapping up and communicate next steps.
- Match your prospect’s speech. If your prospect speaks in a slow, deliberative way, it’s always better to reflect that in your own communication as well. If your prospect speaks loudly, fast or in an excited way, you can build rapport by matching their style in your own speech patterns.
To build rapport, consultants and coaches should find their ideal market and package their services for maximum appeal. In Rainwerks’ interactive Packaged to Prosper sessions, experienced consultant Bob Sherlock will lead you and your peers through proven frameworks for defining your target market and packaging your value proposition for client appeal. To learn more, watch our free video today!