Guest Post by Justin Fong
Sales professionals are constantly looking for the proverbial Holy Grail of sales. They seek that one technique, tip or trick that will enable them to close more sales. While this may not be the Holy Grail of sales, we do think it comes close. Let us know what you think …
Some research has shown that approximately 4 out of 5 of all sales are made simply because the customer liked the salesperson. If this is true, then the ability to quickly build and establish rapport is key to becoming an effective salesperson. I think Abraham Lincoln summed it up perfectly when he said “if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”
Webster’s dictionary defines rapport as a state of harmony between two people. People in this state think and feel the same way, and have often described the state as a feeling of being completely “in sync” with one another. Essentially, creating a state of rapport with someone means making him, or her, feel that they are understood and that you share a strong common bond.
So how do you build rapport?
Rapport building can be done either verbally or non-verbally, with the later being the more powerful. Premised upon the belief that people like people who are similar to them, the focus in building rapport is to make the other person like you. To do this, you simply have to make yourself as “similar” to the other person as possible. The following three techniques of mirroring, physical touch and ‘speaking the other person’s language’ have been proven to be effective tools in building rapport.
The first technique is mirroring. In mirroring, the idea is to match the other person’s posture and body language. To do this, you simply mimic the person’s behavior much like a mirror. The trick to doing this effectively is to subtly follow the other person’s lead. Whenever he changes posture, pause for 3 to 4 seconds before following him. Initially, you may feel uncomfortable doing this, however rest assured that the other person will not be aware of your actions. They will not know why, but on the sub-conscious level, they will feel a strong bond with you.
The second technique is physical touch. It is important in the process of building rapport that you initiate physical contact with the other person in the early stages of your encounter. Studies have revealed that physical contact with a person, even as slight as a touch, makes you seem a warmer and nicer person. In fact, 90% of those touched do not even remember being touched.
To do this well and, more importantly, not to offend the other person, the touch must be as natural as a pat on the back. Ideally, the touch should be made to a neutral part of the body i.e. the area between the shoulder blades, or the part of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow.
Speaking his Language
The third technique to building rapport is to ‘speak the other person’s language.’ Once again, psychological studies have shown that different people process information differently i.e. visually, auditory and kinesthetically. This is known as their preferred representational system. By paying careful attention to the type of words the other person uses, you will gain a fairly accurate assessment of the way they process information. Once you have identified their preferred system, you simply choose to use similar words in your conversation with them.
In summary, the use of the above three techniques will enable you to build instant rapport with almost anyone. Initially you may feel overwhelmed by having to think about building rapport in your daily encounters with people. However, like any skill, with constant practice it will only be a matter of time before you start doing it unconsciously.
Justin is the Principal Consultant for CW Fong & Associates (CWFA). CWFA is a Singapore-based management consultancy that specializes in helping small and medium businesses in areas of communications, strategy formulation, and sales and marketing. Justin currently leads a team of associate consultants that leverages on social media to meet the marketing and selling needs of over 30 Singapore SMEs. CWFA owns and manages the blog www.SG-Sales-Guru.Blogspot.com.