7 Steps to Establishing Rapport

Before beginning your presentation, spend some time establishing rapport. This is a vital “warm up” to any sale. You have to make your potential clients comfortable with you before they’ll want to listen to you or answer your questions.

First, always use the client’s name the way they give it. If your client introduces himself as Anthony, don’t call him Tony. Don’t ever change a name. Just remember it correctly and be prepared to use it a few times during the presentation.

Next, make good eye contact. There is an old adage that if you can’t look me in the eye, I can’t trust you. I don’t know if that is necessarily true, but if they believe it, it is!

Establish common ground. This can be done in various ways. Talk about mutual acquaintances. Perhaps a photograph or trophy or other object in their home or office will tell you what their hobbies and interests are. Take notice and mention your enthusiasm for or interest in them.

Give a sincere compliment. If they have a beautiful office or home, they are proud of that. When appropriate, acknowledge this and pay them a compliment. If meeting in your office or a retail environment, you can compliment them on the amount of research they’ve done about the product or service they’re there to consider.

Be careful about the handshake. There is a tendency in business to reach out and shake hands. Some people are just not comfortable doing this. Learn to watch their movements and be prepared to shake or not to shake.

Pay attention to how they speak. When you first start listening to someone, adjust your rate, speed, and volume to match theirs. You don’t want to be talking in a loud volume or at a fast rate if your clients are soft-spoken. It could be difficult for those folks to follow your presentation which can lead to frustration.

Use an introductory statement. When you have established rapport and are ready to move into the business of why you are meeting, put them at ease with an introductory statement.

Here’s one I have used for years. “Let me begin by thanking you for the time that we’re going to share today. I hope we can consider this meeting somewhat exploratory, meaning I’d like to analyze your needs and get a feeling for what you’re looking for. Oh, by the way, I don’t think we should be in any hurry.” I like to begin with the words, “Let me begin” because it means you are getting down to business. Also notice the words, “somewhat exploratory.” Those words relieve pressure and help them relax. The words, “I don’t think we should be in any hurry” lets your client know that you won’t be pressuring them into anything.

These simple steps, applied in order, will help you finesse your first meeting with clients and put them at ease with you. People who are relaxed will be more open to hearing what you have to say.

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This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

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