Building Rapport: First Things First

Stephen Covey wrote a book entitled First Things First (it’s a great read, I highly recommend it), but today I’m talking about the first step in the sales process. Too many times I see even seasoned salespeople wanting to get the proverbial cart before the horse.

There are steps to a sale–four to twenty-four depending on who you talk to. (OK, I’m exaggerating a bit). I practice and teach a ten step sales process. Interestingly, if one were to ask 100 salespeople, 99 of them would want to get better at closing or asking for the sale.

But, if you’ve not properly completed the previous steps it doesn’t matter how good you are at asking for the sale–you aren’t going to get it.

So, what do you do first? Where does one start?

It all starts with building rapport. Learning about your prospect and establishing common ground. It’s about breaking down barriers and literally getting to know each other.

Webster’s defines rapport as a “relation defined by harmony”. So, in effect you are establishing a relationship with the prospect–a harmonious one where you can exchange information based on trust and confidence.

Until you establish the rapport with a customer and get to know each other, there’s absolutely no sense in moving ahead with the sales process. In fact, you are wasting your time.

We’ve all heard that people buy from people they like. They like you when you start building rapport.

Work on this part of your sales process–and again, don’t move to the next step until you’ve mastered this one.

No one step is more important than the others. In order to be successful you must excel at each equally—or at least be good at them. If you are weak in one single step in the process it will cost you sales, customers and money.