Wouldn’t it be great to have the ability to instantly create a strong rapport with anyone of your choosing? A potential client, a future business partner, or maybe someone on a personal level. How about creating that instant connection with an entire group?
Salespeople have heard time and time again how important it is to build rapport. In fact, many have picked up a couple of tips and tricks that they use from time to time in their sales pitch hoping to get further with their customers. But what we’re talking about is one of the most basic fundamentals of persuasion, to connect with another human being on a level that they take in all of the information you are giving without the underlying skeptic filtering mechanism trying to find some ulterior motive. Imagine if you had the ability to speak directly to someone’s subconscious, what doors would that open for you?
When we’re around people that we completely trust we are much more relaxed and less tense because we don’t have our guard up. This is the point at which we are the most open to suggestion. Now I want to pause for a moment to say that this post is just to educate you so that you understand how our mind works. With this understanding we can protect ourselves from outside suggestions that we may not want. At the same time, by having this knowledge you can use it to persuade others in ways that you cannot even imagine. I trust you will use this information in an ethical way. Now back to rapport…
The reason salespeople struggle using rapport ‘techniques’ is because their behavior is immediately recognized by the customer unconsciously and this trigger creates doubt in the customer. In fact, it creates more tension and has the customer’s guard up even more than if they did not try to use a ‘technique’ at all. The reason is because the very idea of using a ‘technique’ to create a false illusion of connection is the exact opposite of rapport. By doing this you have just violated one of the core components of true rapport, TRUST.
There are 2 main components of rapport: Like and Trust. We will go into detail of each and exactly how to get to the place that you need to in order to become influential. If you miss any of these then everything looks like a technique and it will backfire completely.
There are 2 forms of trust: Capability and Intention. The person you are trying to influence has to believe that you are capable of doing what you are saying that you can do. But it’s much more than capable… it’s that you are the authority on the topic. That you know more than they do on that topic so that they can trust they can follow your direction because you know better than they do. This is where educating your customer in sales comes in.
Now that you’ve shown your knowledge can lead them to a better place, your customer has to believe that you are doing this for their benefit and not yours. This is where they must trust your intentions. If there is any doubt that you are not doing this for their best interest, immediately you lose trust and break rapport.
So looking back to rapport tricks like ‘Match & Mirroring’ or ‘Pace & Leading’, fake smiles, chit chat about the weather, and talking about the pictures in their office. these all will kill your sale. It breaks trust because it immediately says I’m not genuine. I’m actually lying to in a small way so that you can buy my stuff. It doesn’t get any slimier than that!
Most people know that a person has to like you to buy from you. Where people struggle is understanding why liking is a must and how to get a complete stranger to like them within moments. At the end of this post we will show you what actions create the feeling of Like, Capability, and Intention so that you can create true rapport almost immediately.
As for why people must like you in order to listen to your suggestion, it’s because people will even act against their own self-interest just to spite someone that they do not like. Wait what?!?! Yes… you heard that right. If someone does not like you, they will defy you and often do the opposite of your suggestion, even if they know that your suggestion could benefit them. Start with like, move to intention, and finalize with capability.
In the section below we will give rules of operation and actions that create like and trust. It will be written from a perspective of salesperson and client when this is really about two humans building connection. For the purposes of this audience, take a look at it through the lens of a salesperson- which we all are.
Hack #1: Like them first. You can’t fake this, you have to genuinely like them! Find something that you like and focus on it. (Personality, laugh, hair, coat… something!) People like people who like them and dislike those who dislike them.
Hack #2: Compliment what you like and explain what you like about it. The reason why this is rule 2 is because if you fake this and compliment then you will lose trust and things will go terribly wrong! By complimenting you are directly telling them you like them (or something about them).
Hack #3: Become genuinely interested in them. If you are interested, you are perceived as interesting. Even more, if you are fascinated, you becoming fascinating. Ask questions about them of any topics that they interest you.
Hack #4: Speak to them as if you know them forever. Most people are nervous meeting new people. Unless you do it often, people are not naturally comfortable with this process so make it comfortable for them by speaking to them as if you have known them forever. In turn they will relax and feel like they’ve known you forever. This process builds trust also.
Hack #5: SMILE. This creates immediate connection and positive response unconsciously. Make sure the smile is real because that is noticed as well. The difference between a real smile and fake one is in the eyes. Fake smiles are mouth only.
Trust Hacks (Intentions)
Hack #1: First and foremost, only care about the benefit of your customer. If you add value to enough people’s lives and put enough customers before your own self-interest, you will have more customers and customers for life. Don’t be short sighted. This sounds obvious but make it real because this isn’t just a mission statement to look good on your website, this should be how you operate as a person.
Hack #2: Always speak to the benefit of the customer. Answer the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). By doing this it shows that all of your focus and all that you care about is your client benefiting.
Hack #3: Directly tell them that all you are concerned with is their benefit. Many people assume that the customer should know this and they forget to speak the words. The customer has dealt with many people and needs to be told that you will put their interest before yours. That if you truly believe that it isn’t a fit you would rather they get the right product from someone else. Show your integrity and do it genuinely. (I know I shouldn’t have to keep saying the genuine part but I promise you there are people right now skimming through this post to learn a new way of tricking a customer into buying!)
Hack #4: Ask what’s most important to them. Many things in life are preferences and we all have different values. You can be an expert on any topic but you can’t know what someone prefers. By asking and trying to understand their buying criteria, you show that you care about what’s more important to them (not you).
Trust Hacks (Capability)
Hack #1: Become an expert. A real one. Learn your product better than everyone else. Know your competitors products better than they know them. Spend the time to research and become the most educated on the topic because there is no faking this, you are either capable or you are not!
Hack #2: Educate the customer. Teach them what you know and they will recognize your expertise immediately. Teach them how to compare, show them what to look for and how to buy. This is the fastest way for the world to see that you are capable- simply demonstrate it.
Hack #3: Become the authority. You must lead, not follow. In order for the prospect to take action based on your suggestion, you must take the lead and become the authority in that relationship. There is always a teacher/student, parent/child, employer/employee, doctor/patient relationship happening. During an influence/persuasion/sales conversation you must be the authority and make the suggestion so that they can be the person to take the suggestion. Start small with things like “please sit here” or “grab a pen”. Every suggestion they take makes it easier and easier to take bigger suggestions. Lead.
Hack #4: Show how others have benefited from following your lead. Tell success stories, give examples, show testimonials, case studies, etc. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig. Let them see social proof that you already have a following and these people’s lives are better because of you.
I hope this post has given a better understanding of what Rapport truly is and what it is not, how to get it, and how to keep the connection alive to lead, motivate, and inspire!
About the Author
George Athan is the CEO of MindStorm Strategic Consulting and an expert strategy consultant who helps companies rapidly grow their organizations through four key performance areas of Strategy, Innovation, Marketing, & Sales.