Rapport Building – Step 9: Getting Down to Business

Smooth transitions are critical to sales success. As the orchestrator of your time with clients, you need to be prepared to move away from the niceties of the previous steps into the sales presentation without creating any fear in the mind of the potential client.

I suggest incorporating a gentle transition phrase or paragraph into your presentation to get down to business. Here is one that I teach at nearly all of my live events: “John and Mary, let me begin by thanking you for the time we’ll share. I hope we can consider this meeting somewhat exploratory, meaning my job today as a (name your industry) professional is to show you our dynamic company and how we are helping the people we serve here in the community.”

That works well with consumers.

If you were talking with a purchasing agent or decision-maker in the B to B arena, you might alter it like this:

“Bill, let me begin by thanking you for the time we’ll share. I hope we can consider this meeting somewhat exploratory, meaning my job today as a (name your company) representative is to show you our dynamic company and how we are helping other companies like yours.”

By using the phrase “somewhat exploratory” you are relieving any perceived pressure that you’ll be pushing them to buy something today. You see, just because you have the title salesperson or sales consultant or representative in your title, a certain amount of fear or resistance will be created in the mind of the potential client. They don’t want to get sold anything. But, if they’ve agreed to meet with you, they are curious about what your product can do for them. So, with the proper words, you will gently lead them down the path of the presentation you have prepared for them…helping them to gain the knowledge they need to have in order to make a decision that is good for them.


Rapport Building – Step 8: Act Relaxed

If you have a nervous or stilted manner when trying to establish rapport with clients, instead of relaxing them, you’ll put them on edge. If you’re nervous, they’ll get nervous and start raising their walls of sales resistance. They’ll question your reasons for wanting to talk with them. They’ll become suspect of your every move.

In selling situations, many of your clients will respond to your demeanor in kind. What that means is that if you come across friendly and non-threatening, they’ll feel friendly and not threatened by you. In other words, you get what you give. That’s why it’s so important to be well-prepared before meeting with your clients. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 7: Giving Sincere Compliments

Step #7 in the Rapport Setting process is to give a sincere compliment to your potential clients. This doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Something simple is fine as long as it’s sincere. That means it must be honest. You would never compliment someone on their “lovely home” if it was a disaster. Likewise, you wouldn’t say you like anything that you don’t honestly like.

Rule of thumb: If you don’t like something, say nothing about it. Instead, look for something else that you do like or can honestly compliment them about [Read more…]

Dressing for Business

While it’s always a good idea to be dressed professionally, being overdressed can make your potential clients feel inferior. This raises their defenses about wanting to buy anything from you. On the other hand, showing up drastically under-dressed for your potential client’s environment may cause them to dismiss you as not being serious about your career.

Champion salespeople are flexible. They keep clothing alternatives close at hand — either in their cars or in their offices. They not only consider the type of client they’ll be approaching but that client’s environment.

My best advice with regard to attire is to dress like the people your potential clients go to for advice. After all, that’s the role you want to portray with them–that of a professional advisor. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 6: Finding Common Ground

In the rapport setting stage of selling, your #1 goal, as stated in other blog posts on this site, is to help people to like you, trust you and want to listen to you. If you think about selling situations you’ve been in yourself, you’ll have to admit you have the same preference. The sale just seems to flow more smoothly when you learn that you have something in common with the salesperson. So, part of your job in this stage of the sale is to learn something about your buyers that you have in common and talk about it briefly to demonstrate that commonality.

Here are some areas to consider in consumer sales (B-to-C):

  • Are they married?
  • Do they have kids? If so, how many? What ages? Are the kids involved in sports, music or other activities?
  • Are these people sports fans? What sports? What teams? (Take note if they’re wearing a local team’s jacket, shirt or baseball cap.)
  • What part of town do they live in?
  • Have they always lived in this city? If not, what area of the country did they move from? If you moved to the area from elsewhere you can briefly talk about first impressions of the area or what they enjoy most about living there. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 5: Match their speed and volume of speech

From the old Western movies of my childhood the phrase “fast-talkin’ city slicker” comes to mind when teaching this topic. It was a term used to describe the outsider, someone not to be trusted. And, building trust is critical to the forward progression of every sales situation.

Since people tend to feel comfortable buying from someone who is like them, it’s important that you pay attention to the little nuances of communication that help them feel (consciously or subconsciously) comfortable with you. How much attention you need to give this nuance will depend upon the demographic of your potential clients and the territory you work within. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 4: Making Good Eye Contact

There are all sorts of sayings about eye contact such as:

  • If you won’t look me in the eye, I can’t trust you.
  • The eyes are the mirror of the soul.
  • The eyes have a language of their own.

These few sayings alone demonstrate the power of eye contact. They tell you that you must use your eyes to build trust, demonstrate sincerity and speak honestly.

I teach nine steps to building rapport at my 3-day, high-intensity Boot Camp Sales Mastery program. The fourth step, making good eye contact, is one of the most challenging for some people who are new to sales. It’s also a challenge for some veterans who aren’t closing as many sales as they would like. They just don’t realize it.     [Read more…]

First Impressions

Most of my staff members have been with me for over 25 years. Working with our content day in and day out, they know it very well. When they go about their daily lives, they really notice the nuances of selling in their own personal purchasing situations. Some have recounted stories of salespeople who have literally cringed when they learn who my people work for. The salespeople will say things like: “Well, you already know what I’m going to do and say, don’t you?” (At least they use the tie-downs!) Or, “Are you grading me on my sales skills?” If you know any of my staff members, you’ll know they would be like me in these situations and just have fun with it. When their “sales experience” stories are related back to me, we often discuss how our training could help improve the sales process. In some situations, it might be awkward to make suggestions because the people they’re working with don’t seem to know they’re in sales.

[Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 3: The Handshake

To shake or not to shake, that is the question. It used to be that salespeople would always shake the hands of everyone they met. In today’s world, that isn’t always the case. As with many aspects of selling, clients should be treated the way they want to be treated. And, there are people out there who just don’t want to shake your hand.

Depending on what your product is, the handshake may be inappropriate. For example, if you market products to senior citizens, there’s a likelihood that they might have arthritis in their hands and shaking hands is uncomfortable for them. Be aware and be gentle with those people. If you market products to people in the health care field, they may be averse to the handshake because of the potential spread of germs. In these situations it never hurts to ask (with a smile) “May I shake your hand?”

However, in most sales situations, a handshake is appropriate and expected. Handshakes can be very telling. If yours is weak, it makes a negative first impression on your potential clients. If it’s too strong, that can also create a negative impression. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 2: Remembering Names

In sales, we meet a lot of people. And one of the most important things to every person we meet is their name. So, it’s critical that we get those name right…and that we remember them.

I’ll never forget one incident that embarrassed me so much that I immediately sought a way to change how I remember names. I had met a very nice couple and spent quite a bit of time over one weekend showing them homes. On Sunday afternoon, we found the home that met all their needs and they wanted to make an offer. As I filled out the legal documents, I said to the husband, “Shall I put your name down as Bob or Robert?” He said, “Tom, I think Jim makes a lot of sense.” [Read more…]