I moved fourteen times before graduating from high school.
That meant fourteen addresses to learn. Fourteen neighborhoods to navigate. And fourteen completely different groups of people to meet.
Should I put my head down and drift around like a ghost, knowing I’d be gone before the school year ended? Or should I embrace the challenge and use it as an opportunity to create connections and build friendships?
If you’ve spent even five minutes around me, you can probably guess which option I chose. : -)
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually discovering one of the cornerstones of the sales process. I was learning to build rapport. And I had no idea how it would change my life, both personally and professionally.
So, what does it mean to build rapport as a salesperson - and a person in general? If you’re a salesperson, I’m guessing this definition doesn’t seem quite right. Isn’t rapport just matching and mirroring? Isn’t it just changing the pace of your speech and your breathing? Isn’t it just a way to convince people that you’re like them?
Millions of salespeople have been taught to build rapport because of what they stand to gain, and not for what they can discover. This is a terrible mistake. Consider for a moment just how powerful building rapport can actually be…Like too many people, I was raised in an environment I did not like. There was no certainty that I wouldn’t end up dead, on drugs, in jail or worse (whatever hell that might be). If it weren’t for the loving kindness of many people who had no reason to care about me, the life I’m living today wouldn’t have been possible.
How did they reach me? How did they permanently change the course of my life? You guessed it - by building rapport.I’ve defined five approaches you can use to start rapport-building conversations:
- Assumed familiarity. “It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” When used correctly, this can be very effective because it puts us on the same team as the person we’re talking to. But, as in anything you assume, it can backfire. Use this approach with caution!
- Shared observation. “Looks like it’s going to rain.” Something this simple can be the start of a great conversation, as long as you have a plan to keep it going.
- Recognition. This feeds on our need for significance and causes the other person to feel valued. “Hey, I remember meeting you at a conference last year” is a perfect example that can lead to deeper conversation.
- Asking for help. “Excuse me, do you have a moment?” Most of us love to help other people because it feeds our need to contribute, and can start a great dialogue.
- Confirming Understanding. “You seem like the kind of person who...Is that right?” This approach is pretty simple, and it makes the person you’re talking to feel significant, which can be incredibly effective in both a sales situation - and in everyday life.
These approaches work because they feed the six human needs that we all share. In the webinar, I break these down so that you can understand how to best help each of your clients.
Now that I’ve shared these strategies, I challenge you to use them. Here’s your assignment:
- Adopt the right mindset. Make having fun your agenda when starting conversations. Do not start a conversation with the intention of selling something.
- Start two new conversations per day. In line at Starbucks, dropping off your dry cleaning, calling a customer service line – strive to make someone’s day by breaking their pattern.
Start two new conversations per day. In line at Starbucks, dropping off your dry cleaning, calling a customer service line – strive to make someone’s day by breaking their pattern.