Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to Build Rapport With Anyone

Rapport : An emotional bond or friendly relationship between people based on mutual liking, trust and a sense that they understand and share each other's concerns.

Many people think building rapport means some small talk about the weather or football before launching into a sales pitch. No way! Just like the definition says, rapport is much more than that. Rapport is creating a relationship based on more than just selling the client - it's based on truly caring for them as a person, and always making them feel comfortable. This is an important skill that the best salespeople have mastered - and sales trainer Dave Kahle has the tips you need to do the same.

1. Pay attention to your appearance.

People will form an impression of you, based on how you look, before they even say hello to you. Your appearance, then, should be designed to help you look confident and competent - whatever that means in your market. At a minimum, that means clothes clean and pressed, shoes shined and hair cut.

Your attire should help you connect with the customer - not separate you from him. For example, if you are calling on production supervisors, you ought not to wear a suit and tie, as that will separate you from them, and generate a bit of discomfort in them.

The best rule I've seen is this: Dress like your customer, only a little better. On several occasions, I have worked with sales forces who sold to farmers. Blue jeans and flannel shirts are ok, as long as they are clean and pressed blue jeans, and a better quality flannel shirt.

2. Try an occasional bit of disarming honesty

In routine interchanges, say something that the customer is not expecting. For example, when he says, "How are you?" instead of the perfunctory "Fine," try something like this: "Honestly, my day didn't get off to a good start. One of the kids was sick this morning, and I was a half hour late getting out of the house. How are you?"

It's disarming because it was unexpected. And, it's honest, reveals something about you, and describes a situation with which almost everyone can relate. A good way to build rapport.

3. Humor

If you are one of those people who can make people laugh most of the time, then you are equipped with a powerful rapport-building asset. There is something about laughing together that breaks down some of the barriers between people and removes some of the tension. It's a great way to build rapport.

If you are not one of those people so gifted, then it's better to stay away from this. Telling a joke that nobody gets, or having a glib comment being seen as sarcastic or caustic is not a good way to build rapport.

Tomorrow we'll focus on four more tips from Dave Kahle to help you establish rapport with anyone. See you then!

Dave Kahle is the President of the DaCo Corporation, specializing in helping business-to-business companies increase sales and develop their people. Learn more at www.davekahle.com

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