Rapport Building 101
Updated: Jul 7, 2019
"People do business with people they like"
We have all heard that expression.
Many dismiss it as cliche (It has been overused.)
However, this is true today more than ever. YES, you need to know your shit and not be merely a charismatic dummy. However, with the increasing availability of information, the knowledge and skills gap is closing in between companies.
The difference between a sale or no sale often comes down to the relationship you have with the client.
Think about it:
We all know someone who ONLY goes to a specific supplier, even when there could arguably be better options out there. It is typically because your manager has been working with Jake for 15 years. Jake knows about his family, serves as an advisor rather than a rep, and has won the client's unconditional endorsement for any deals.
Rapport marks the BEGINNING stages of such a relationship. It lays the foundation for what is to come. Proper rapport is easier to build than people make it out to be as long as you follow some basic concepts.
Don't make it ALL BUSINESS
Don't get me wrong, odds are that If you just secured your first meeting with a client, they are not going to be interested in your 20-minute speech about why you are still considering picking up and moving to London after the quarter is done. Their time is limited and they want an action plan.
Having said that, many times you will run into social butterflies. They will ask you where you are from, If it's your first time in the city, etc. They are CURIOUS about you. At that point, the WORST mistake you can make is to stifle the conversation and jump to business right away.
At best, you will earn the buyer's commitment to a 2nd meeting based on YOUR PITCH. However, you wasted the opportunity to build the FOUNDATION of a good relationship. You are still just another rep knocking on their door, albeit one with an interesting proposal, but still another rep.
If that happens, let the client talk and build on that conversation:
-Find out more about them AS A PERSON
-Let them see a more human side of you
-Listen more than you talk
-Establish that you can be trusted
If you do it right, the client will factor in the good impression you made into whether or not you are worth talking to again. This will play in your favor when the client is on the fence.
Granted, you also don't want the whole meeting to turn into a bar conversation without beers. However, the good thing about applying the concepts above is that the transition into business talk will be natural. Even If the client is enjoying the conversation, they are at work. The conversation will naturally shift back into why you are there. That's when, after breaking the ice properly, you get down to business.
Provide good value statements
Value statements are exactly what they sound they are: Brief statements highlighting the value the client is receiving. They can vary by seller.
However, there are 2 parts that must be included in the puzzle:
1. Personal value statement
2. Company value statement
Here is an example of how a value statement could be used when you transition away from rapport (Uppercase portions.):
"Now we could probably talk about X all day long, however, I want to be respectful of your time. You mentioned you have 20 minutes today, does that still sound good?
Perfect. What I would like to do is share a bit about my background and role at ABC and why I am here. Learn more about your goals, then talk about ways that ABC could provide value to your company. How does that sound?
Quick background on me. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PASSIONATE ABOUT TECHNOLOGY. I RAN A SMALL ONLINE STORE FOR 5 YEARS, WHERE I LEARNED ABOUT THE VALUE OF HAVING THE BEST SOLUTIONS AVAILABLE. SOON AFTER I COMPLETED MY STUDIES, I BEGAN MY ROLE AT ABC. AT ABC, WE CARRY MULTIPLE TOP OF THE LINE SECURITY PRODUCTS AND HAVE A TEAM OF OVER 1,000 CYBERSECURITY EXPERTS TO SERVE OUR CLIENTS. MY JOB IN THIS PROCESS IS TO BE YOUR RIGHT HAND-PERSON AND HELP YOU FIND THE STRATEGY THAT BRINGS YOU THE BEST VALUE.
Now that I basically gave you m life story, why don't you tell me more about X goal you mentioned over the phone?"
Obviously, IT WILL VARY ACCORDING TO THE SITUATION AND THE PERSON.
However, notice how both portions were there:
Personal value statement:
- 5 years of experience
-Business owner perspective
-Degree in relevant field
Company value statement:
-Top of the line security products
-1000 cybersecurity experts
If you will remember from my first piece, Sales 101 (http://bit.ly/tsl101), there were 3 KEY questions that must be answered in EVERY sales call:
Why your company?
The company value statement and the personal value statement answer the first 2 questions respectively. The 3rd one will be organically answered as you uncover more pain points later in the call.
Make your rapport leave an open loop for a strong close
The close is a whole different monster that deserves a post of its own. Having said that, Building up your rapport well from the beginning will serve as the foundation for a strong close.
Think about a good story. It always goes back to the beginning to wrap everything up. It closes the loop. Your presentations are no different. You covered a lot of details, numbers, deadlines, etc. However, at the end of the day, it all goes back to specific goals you MUST lay out at the beginning. Otherwise, your presentation runs the risk of looking disorganized and missing the point.
In the example I laid out above, the client was clearly interested in a security solution. You want to make sure you lay out the SPECIFIC goals you want to touch upon. Think about the issues the client mentioned in the initial call.
Once you establish those goals, you will have a foundation to start asking the right questions, uncovering more needs and facts, then go back to them with new information, securing the next meeting.
Building proper rapport goes back to the unifying theme of a good sale: Providing value.
Take advantage of those initial moments in the meeting. You never know what you are going to find out as you progress, or what objections you will face. Those parts are still uncharted territory and vary by the individual client. However, rapport is where you have the floor completely, leaving you room to set the right tone to both lay the groundwork for a good relationship with the client, as well as showing the value you can bring to the client.
This is it for the week. Make sure you join the newsletter for more exclusive content and future giveaways.