Gaining rapport is one of the most important sales skills. It is the starting point for building trust and a relationship with another human being.
The research continues to indicate it is critical to gain rapport with a prospect or customer as fast as possible. Reason? The prospect decides if they like you in the first 30 seconds of the meeting. Then after only four minutes, they lock in their feelings about you in their mind.
If they like you in the first few minutes then the rest of the time they are looking for ways to do business with you – including working with you to solve issues or differences between what they want and what you have to offer. Interesting, only four minutes to set this up. The flip side to this information – the dark side if you may – is if they feel they don’t like you, then they are listening for the first excuse or reason to say “no” and get you out of their office.
Since everything counts in selling, gaining rapport quickly is a key factor in your ultimate sales success. While there are many things you can do for better rapport building techniques, I will focus strictly on the nonverbal rapport building techniques. As a reminder, it is critically important for you to learn the power of word usage, behavioral style recognition and improved questioning techniques for total rapport building with others.
Let’s get back on track, nonverbal selling techniques you can use immediately include…
Four Nonverbal Selling Techniques
Not to be confused with mimicking others, this powerful technique allows a bonding or connection to take place at a subconscious level. You goal is to match the basic body posture of your prospect or customer as quickly as possible. Examples: When the customer is leaning forward talking to you, you match by leaning forward also – rather than being slumped back in the chair listening. Another example is following the hand movement – not identical movements only use closely related movements. This behavior relaxes the customer or prospect since they begin to feel you are like them.
Okay, this sounds different and it is for the uninformed. Breaking state is all about watching the body language of an individual during your interview, presentation or conversations. The reality is you must learn to watch for visual clues that something is happening with your customer. Here is an example of “breaking state” that I experienced. While talking with a Sr. Vice President of a large organization, I noticed after several minutes of free flowing ideas and conversation with a forward leaning and open arms, a sudden change of state occurred. He sat back in his chair, folded his arms, lost focus and stopped interacting. I stopped the conversation and asked what happened, I feel something must have been said that impacted him negatively. And, I was right. Seems he had had a very unpleasant and negative experience as a younger, lower level manager with a certain learning technique (that was totally misused) and he wanted no part of it again! After talking through this issue, he re-engaged and things went well. So, watch the body language and the eyes for signals of lack of interest, bored, or worst – hostile actions coming.
This is more of an indirect or subtle approach to mirroring. Rather than matching an arm and hand gesture, let’s say crossing or folding of the arms, with you crossing your legs. Same impact only different movements. An example: if the customer crosses their wrists, you could cross your ankles. Again, the same impact. You are building feelings of acceptance and agreement between you and the customer.
Matching Voice Patterns
I know, I said nonverbal techniques and this sounds like a verbal thing. Well, it still falls under the nonverbal since I’m not talking about the words being used or the word phrases being used with a customer. Here, I’m talking about listening to the speech patterns – pitch, volume, pace or speed used by the customer or prospect. This information can be traced to behavioral style tendencies. Listen intently and modify your pitch, volume and speaking speed to match your customer or prospect. Later, you can move on to listening to how each sentence or phrase is structured by the customer – does the emphasis tail up or down at the end of the phrase or sentence? This are more advanced techniques that can empower you to gain rapport with anyone.
Review this list of nonverbal techniques or get a book on this subject such as Sales Magic by Kerry Johnson; Using Nonverbal Techniques by Michael Grinder or NLP at Work by Sue Knight. Any of these books will cover the entire process of gaining rapport with others.