As a sales professional, you understand the importance of building personal rapport with your clients. It’s the first thing you’re taught, and it’s the one skill that can always use more improvement.
Webster’s Dictionary defines rapport as “ a friendly relationship,” one that is crucial in maintaining and increasing sales. However, building rapport isn’t as easy as it sounds. You must be able to understand how to effectively communicate with people. It’s about not only knowing and understanding your preferred communication style, but being able to know and understand the receiver’s communication style as well.
Analyze Your Communication Style
Ask yourself a series of questions to get a feel for how you are most comfortable communicating with others.
- How do I influence others?
- How do I handle challenging situations?
- How do I change my approach when dealing with different behavior styles?
- Am I able to recognize different behavior styles?
Once you’ve given the answers thought, consider the different styles of communication you deal with on a daily basis. Think of your clients and co-workers, since a large part of your sales job depends on the rapport you build with them.
Modify Communication for Different People
More times than not, people conduct sales calls or pitches with a one-size-fits-all approach. If you want the best opportunity to win the business, it’s imperative your communication style is adaptive to the person with which you are communicating. Meaning: If you enjoy details and analytical data and you’re communicating with someone who likes to get straight to the point, it’s important to adjust your tactics and provide them with the bottom line. Drop the abundance of details unless they request more information. This rule not only applies to sales pitches or calls, but to emails as well. Adapt accordingly to the people around you, and success will be realized sooner than later.
Here are a few suggestions for dealing with the following behavior styles:
- Direct, Strong-Willed, Ambitious: Be clear, specific, brief, and to the point
- Friendly and Enthusiastic: Provide a warm environment, and refrain from drowning them in details, unless they ask for them
- Predictable, Steady, and Relaxed: Present yourself softly, non-threateningly, and logically
- Perfectionist, Conservative: Prepare your presentation in advance, stick to business, and don’t exaggerate.
Consider the client you are selling to before you meet with them. Doing research, or reaching out to them prior to your sales pitch, will help you feel out their personality and know how to adjust yours to make them feel most comfortable. If you’re using the same approach with all clients, you could be missing up to 75 percent of your opportunities.
Maintain Your Relationship
Rapport needs to be established throughout the entire sales process, not just the beginning. This also allows the seller/buyer relationship to grow and positions you for referrals down the line. The key to maintaining these relationships is often small things that make a big difference. Channel your energy into delighting and serving your buyer. The question that should constantly be on your mind should be “How can I help them?” When communicating with your client, hone in on ideas or ways that could benefit them. This makes your prospect feel considered, and it makes you seem trustworthy, a very rare feat in today’s world.
Being considerate is pivotal; it’s very often the key in growing relationships that blossom into a profitable sale. People don’t often remember you—but they will remember how you made them feel. Ask as many questions as are needed to understand your prospect, what they value, what they do, and why they do it. This will make you a smarter salesperson, and make it much easier when it comes to focusing in on things that matter most to them.
Listen intently at all times. This shows that you sincerely care and are appreciative of what your client says. Being “heard” is very important in a buyer/seller relationship. Ultimately people buy from people they feel are competent, genuine, and trustworthy. You establish this through effective listening.
Think about the kind of people you choose to do business with or the people you enjoy working with in your field. Ask yourself why they appeal to you. Is it their work ethic? Is it their attention to detail? Is it their incredible listening skills? Whatever it is that makes them pleasant to work with, try to channel these qualities into your own work habits. Building off of peers that inspire you to be a better salesperson will only benefit you as you work on perfecting your communication skills.
By the same token, take note of the things you don’t enjoy in your work environment or in other sellers. Being pushy, aggressive, or bossy rarely ends in a profitable sale, or a strong rapport with a client. The sooner you are able to determine what works for you and your client, the closer you are to becoming a well-rounded and successful salesperson.
Coach Stephanie Chung is an award-winning executive coach, sales mentor, and business advisor backed by more than 25 years of team management, business development, and sales leadership experience. She assists clients with DISC assessments for a more in-depth look at exploring and mastering different behavior styles and communication techniques.