Rapport Building – Step 1: The Power of Your Smile

Your primary goal when working with a new potential client is to get them to like you, trust you and want to listen to you. That’s the absolute most basic foundation of all of my training. The reason you take the actions and use the words I teach is that they’ve all been designed and proven to make you likeable, demonstrate trustworthiness, and say something worth listening to.

This is one of the most miniscule strategies I teach, yet it can make or break your career. Don’t dismiss this or take this information lightly because it’s one of the first things people see in an intial contact and it sets the stage for how the rest of your contact goes.

You see, in direct, personal contacts people judge you during the first 15 seconds of meeting you. (Online, you have only 5 seconds to make a good impression.) Most people do this subconsciously, but they try to get a “reading” on you from the moment they first glance your way. How are you dressed and groomed? Do you walk with confidence? Do you look like someone they’d want to do business with? That’s what it boils down to and even the slightest nuances of body language are picked up by most people.

Once you get close enough to make introductions, most people bring their focus to your face. And the two facial features you need to use properly are your eyes and your mouth.

Step #1 of my 9 Rapport-Setting Strategies is to Smile.
How simple is that? Most people don’t even need to think about smiling. Too many salespeople never think about it and don’t know if they’re smilers or not.

You might think you’re a smiler, but not be one. Here’s a simple test: Ask someone that you see every day, a co-worker or family member, close neighbor    (someone you trust) if you smile a lot. If you don’t, it’s time to change.

 Not comfortable doing that? Start paying attention to your reflection in the bathroom mirror, the rearview mirror, a window or even your computer screen.
As you stroll through life in general, are you a smiler? If not, chances are good that you aren’t a smiler with your clients either. If you’re old enough to start
getting a few wrinkles, notice where they appear first? Are you getting “smile lines?” Or, is that crease between your eyes more prominent. Very telling.

Another simple test is to pay attention to whether or not other people smile at you. You see, smiles are transferable. If you smile at someone, chances are good that they’ll smile back or at the very least their initial expression will soften. If you don’t see that happening, you’re not smiling enough or sincerely.

We’ve all seen villains in the movies smiling, but with a sense of coldness in their eyes. I’m sure you could easily recognize a fake smile, too. You don’t want to do that. It’s important to bring your smile all the way up and into your eyes. To practice smiling with sincerity, think about someone you care about deeply, a child, spouse, parent, dear friend. You have a sincere desire to keep their best interests at heart, don’t you? You can feel your eyes soften as you gently smile while thinking of them. That’s the smile you need to transmit to potential clients.

I’m not suggesting you be fake in giving them the same smile you reserve for people you care deeply about. What I’m telling you is that you must feel as sincerely about serving the needs of your potential clients as you do about caring for those closest to you. Then, your smiles will come easily. They’ll be genuine and sincere.

Whether or not you smile easily and sincerely is a habit. You may have to give it some practice and conscious effort for a few weeks in order to change this habit. But it’s totally worth it.

(If you know of a co-worker or fellow sales associate who doesn’t smile, send them the link to this post. :-)

Search the blog under the Category of Initial Contact to find more Rapport Setting Strategies.

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



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  1. Love all your advise, thank you!

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