Would you like to improve the way you build rapport with your customers and prospects?
Building better rapport can make it so that your prospects actually want to hear from you; they want to listen to you; and they want to answer your questions. Sounds pretty good, right?
What’s more, the better rapport you have with a customer or a prospect, the less likely they will treat you like just another vendor.
But many salespeople are using all the wrong tactics to build rapport—and they end up accidentally pushing customers away.
So, let’s get started helping you build rapport with your customers. The right approach might surprise you.
In this video, I’m going to show you 7 counterintuitive tips to build rapport with your customers. Check it out:
Build Rapport Tip #1: Stop pitching them.
All the best reps out there have already made this change. They’ve stopped pitching their prospects. Pitching makes prospects put their guard up. And when prospects feel guarded, they don’t want to hear what we have to say.
Just put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you have a friend who sells something to consumers, and every time you’re with them, all they want to do is pitch you on buying their product. Would you want to see that friend very often? Of course not.
So, stop pitching people all the time, and instead, flip the script to focus on them, to understand what they actually care about. That way, when it comes time to actually present a solution, you’re not just pitching them on some random offering—rather, you’re presenting a solution to their toughest problems. They’re going to be much more interested to see that.
The second we stop pitching, we immediately start to improve the way we build rapport. Pitching is salesy, and salesy behavior turns prospects and customers off—which is the opposite of building rapport.
Build Rapport Tip #2: Research everything you can.
The more you know about your prospects, the more you can build rapport with them. This just makes logical sense.
If you walk into a meeting and you know every detail about your prospect, their company, their challenges, what they tweeted last week, or what they mentioned on that LinkedIn group, they’re going to say, “Wow, this person really does their homework.”
This will make any prospect feel more positive towards you. Not to mention, you’re going to have all of this information that you can use to just naturally build rapport as the conversation progresses.
This isn’t just about the low-hanging fruit such as being in a prospect’s office, noticing a Boston Red Sox picture, and saying, “Oh, I’m a Sox fan, too!” Instead, you’re researching the prospect before you ever get to their office. Go onto their LinkedIn profile, find out what company they worked at last, and slip that into the conversation when you see them: “I noticed that you worked at XYZ Company before, and given your role there and now your role here, here is some insight I think you’ll appreciate…”
That’s how we start to use research as a way to build better rapport.
Build Rapport Tip #3: Engage with insight.
When we engage in sales conversations by using insight and sharing information, we immediately set ourselves apart from the hordes of other salespeople who focus on the benefits and features of their products.
By opening the conversation with insight around the prospect’s world, we demonstrate that we are experts. Being perceived as an expert is key to helping you build rapport with prospects. You can do this by sharing your thoughts on their industry, giving your unique perspective on what’s going on in their market, or sharing what you see happening with their competitors.
When you engage with insight, prospects will think to themselves, “I want to hear what this person has to say. I’m actually learning something here.” Once they have that thought, rapport-building immediately goes way up.
Build Rapport Tip #4: Learn about their challenges.
This is more than just starting a conversation by saying, “Let me pick your brain about what’s going on in your world.” No, no, no. First, you want to share a few quick pieces of insight (as we discussed in the last tip) and then you’re going to use that insight to engage prospects in a conversation about their challenges.
The most effective way to do this is to start by presenting a few common challenges that you see happening in the prospect’s industry. This is your insight. Then, ask a question such as, “Do any of those issues ring true to you?” This will get them talking about their challenges. Once they do, you can ask more questions to dig deeper.
Learning about your prospects’ challenges is one of the most critical components to building rapport. Remember, if you want to build rapport, you need to focus completely on the prospect—never on yourself.
Build Rapport Tip #5: Mirror them.
For years now, I’ve talked about mirroring as a physical act of mirroring what prospects do with their bodies. But the data has become mixed on that more recently. The latest research shows that mirroring the prospect verbally, as opposed to physically can be much more effective if you want to build rapport.
So, this means that you want to literally mirror the last few words that a prospect says. Repeat it right back to them.
Let’s say a prospect says, “You know what, we’re seeing everything changing in our industry right now.” You would reply, “Everything is changing in your industry.” The effect is two-fold: first, you are showing that you’re actively listening, and second, you are prompting them to continue to share more.
The key to mirroring is that you stop talking after you repeat the prospect’s words. Just repeat it and and get them to keep going.
Build Rapport Tip #6: Label their experience.
This is similar to mirroring, but instead, you’re going to essentially label what the prospect seems to be feeling or experiencing as a result of what they just said.
Imagine your prospect says, “Everything has changed for our operations lately. Things have been pretty crazy.” Now, you want to share your big-picture interpretation of how that must feel for the prospect. Say something like, “It sounds like things have really been crazy in transition for you lately, huh?” To which they will reply, “Yeah, exactly!”
So, we’re labeling what they’re likely feeling or experiencing, and this shows that we’ve really been focused on what they’ve said. Now they are much more engaged and they feel like we understand them. That’s how rapport goes way up.
Build Rapport Tip #7: Present only to their challenges.
This is so important. Many sales reps want to present every bell and whistle of their offering. But the reality is that not one of your prospects needs every single thing that you offer—literally not one.
There are always going to be certain things that are more important to a prospect. If you have done a good job during that discovery conversation to understand what they really care about and what the challenges are most pressing to them, then you can present only to the challenges that they’ve mentioned. This is key to building rapport.
Only focus on the part of your offering that actually solves those challenges. When you are presenting only to their challenges, you’re basically saying, “I understand what you’ve told me.” Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by presenting features or benefits that might actually make the prospect say, “You know what, I don’t really need that…I’m going to have to bring other people into the conversation we’re talking about that.”
Instead, only present the solutions to their challenges. This conveys to the prospect that you get what’s going on, and that your solution is catered and geared directly toward what they care about. Rapport goes through the roof.
So, there you have it. Now you know 7 counterintuitive tips to build rapport with your customers. Which of these ideas did you find most useful for your own selling strategy? Be sure to share in the comments section to join the conversation.