Tips to Establish Rapport Over the Phone, at Your Prospect's Home or Your Office
If you can establish common ground with your prospects, they will like you, trust you, and buy from you.
What do you do to establish rapport? Are you sharp enough to find something besides business after you open to conversation? Here are some ideas you can try on the phone, at the prospects home, at your place of business or networking event.
ON THE PHONE: It's likely that you're calling to make an appointment, so focus on these 4 things:
1. Get to the point in 15 seconds
2. Be happy and humorous
3. Get to know something personal about the prospect
4. Nail down the appointment
You first begin to establish rapport by getting to the point! State the purpose of your call immediately. It's not necessary (and it's often a put-off) to ask the insincere "How are you today?" Just state your name, your company name, and how you can help the prospect. Once you've done that, there is a sense of relief of both sides. The prospect is relieved because he/she now knows why you've called, and you're relieved because of prospect hasn't hung up on you. Now you can go about the task of establishing some rapport and setting the appointment.
Try to use humor at least twice during the conversation (but don't force it). People love to laugh. A quick, clean 10-second joke can do more for buyer rapport than 10 minutes worth of sales talk.
You can gain insight by listening. Prospect mood, hometown, and personality will all be revealed in just a few minutes on the phone. I listen closely for speech accent. It gives me a clue about where my prospect hails from - a great subject if you're well traveled or come from the same place.
Listen for and be sensitive to the mood of the prospect. If he or she is noticeably short of gruff, just say, "I can tell you're busy. Why don't we pick a time more convenient for me to call?"
Establish prospect rapport before you begin your pitch. The best way to win the sale is to first win the prospect. If you find common subjects or interests with a prospect, you can establish a business friendship. People are more likely to buy from a friend a salesman.
AT THE PROSPECT'S HOUSE: This is the easiest place to establish rapport.
Look for clues as soon as you walk into the prospect's place of business. Pictures, plaques, or awards on the wall; magazines subscribed to that don't match the business. When you get in the prospects house, look for pictures of children or events, bookcase items, books, diplomas, awards, desk items, or anything that reveals personal likes and/or leisure pursuits. Ask about an award or trophy. Ask about a diploma or picture. Your prospect will be glad to talk about what he or she has accomplished or likes to or likes to do.
Try to engage prospects in intelligent conversation with open-ended questions about their interests. It's obviously better if you're well versed on the subject, but the point is to get prospects to talk about what makes them happy. Use humor. Humor builds rapport because it constitutes an agreement (when a prospect laughs). Getting the prospect to laugh will set the stage for a positive presentation.
AT YOUR PLACE OF BUSINESS: When your prospective customer comes to your place of business, it is more difficult to establish common ground because you don't have the advantage of telling items that would be present in his or her surroundings. So, be observant. Look at clothing, car, rings, imprinted items, their business card, or anything that gives you a clue as to the type of person they are.
Be friendly. Ask open-ended questions. Try to find out what they did last weekend, or what they're doing this weekend. Ask about a movie or television show. Avoid politics and their personal problems. And don't lament about your personal problems.
People love to talk about themselves. Ask the right question and it's tough to shut them up. Your objective is to find a subject, idea, or situation that you BOTH know about or are interested in.
Be real. It's as easy to spot insincere salesperson as a skunk in your living room. Both smell awful
One word of caution: Be aware of the time when building rapport. The time you're permitted to spend building rapport has a lot to do with where you live geographically. In the Northeast, you may have as little as 30 seconds. In these situations I try to be direct immediately. Gain interest first. Then go for some rapport.
In the South, Midwest, Southwest, and West, you can spend 5 to 10 minutes establishing rapport. Don't lose sight of your mission, but, I can assure you the mission is most likely to be accomplished if you make a friend before making a presentation. The key is getting prospects to talk about themselves. This will give you a chance to find common ground, establish rapport, and increase your chance to make a sale.
NO RAPPORT, NO SALE!