There is No Secret to establishing rapport; it’s a process! In version II we reviewed rapport-building when there is the advantage of knowing the prospect(s) prior to meeting the first time. We learned that research prior to the meeting is VITAL to knowing your audience and establishing rapport; or a new relationship with TRUST more quickly leading to a sale!
This post will review the process of establishing rapport when you are meeting for the first time with no prior knowledge of the prospect(s). Remember that we discussed that all are in judgement of whom they meet; even salespeople. It is CRITICAL that you NOT judge the prospect using non-verbal evidence. Many sales are lost with this error for even the most qualified prospect may not be dressed in a manner YOU think is appropriate, their hair may be disheveled, and/or their hands may be dirty from working in the garden. Your attitude and/or body language will reveal a negative PRE-JUDGEMENT, so beware and DO NOT fall prey to this oft-made mistake!
When meeting a prospect for the first time, we want to be curious and obtain QUALIFYING & RAPPORT-BUILDING information. Our creator gave us TWO EARS & ONE MOUTH; it is important to remember to use them in relation to the percentage of importance. In other words, talk no more than 33.3% of the time (and occasionally less) and ACTIVELY LISTEN the other. We are unable to effectively learn if we are not ACTIVELY listening to our prospect! The 66.6% advantage (two ears) offered by listening compounds the opportunity for success tenfold or more!
The next stage is knowing the difference between OPEN-ENDED and CLOSED-ENDED questions. CLOSED-ENDED questions are for obtaining a specific answer; usually ONE word. An example would be when you ask, “Are you in a position to make a decision today?” It is really a “YES/NO” question. Or another would be, “Do you like option one or two?” This is a decision-making question requiring no narrative from the prospect.
OPEN-ENDED questions are designed to gather information in freestyle conversation. Your questions are requiring your prospect to THINK before talking….AND AGAIN, YOU MUST LISTEN CAREFULLY! An example of an OPEN-ENDED question that you might ask is, “Tell me more about your family and where you live?” This creates the opportunity for you to gain valuable information to find that common ground that assists with establishing rapport. And at the risk of redundancy, this is where you use the 66.6% rule; listening to be most effective!
Using the scenario from our last post as an example (where you are an insurance salesperson), the following is an example of how meeting for the first time can lead to important qualifying information as well as gaining rapport with your new prospect; and remember, it must all be done SINCERELY or you will fail miserably!
So, you are an insurance salesperson and you meet Mr. & Mrs. Prospect for the first time at a charity event. When discovering that you sell insurance, Mrs. Prospect tells you that they have been shopping insurance and would be interested in meeting with you soon. You ask, “Tell me more about your insurance needs?” (OPEN-ENDED) Then you might ask, “Do you have children?” (CLOSED-ENDED.) “Have you received other proposals yet,” may be another CLOSED-ENDED question you ask. The next series of questions you ask are a mixture of OPEN & CLOSED ENDED questions to gain information to prepare for the requested meeting.
And as far as establishing rapport, your ACTIVE listening may reveal that your children go to the same school and/or you have a promotion available on the type of insurance they are shopping. It is possible that you live in the same neighborhood. Learning more about your prospect allows you to find common ground; jump starting a new relationship….or establishing rapport! (Remember to SINCERELY react to what you learn for patronizing or BS will knock you back to less than square one.)
To summarize, we have reviewed how to establish rapport with new prospects; one that you have the advantage of researching prior to the meeting and the other having just met casually. Both scenarios require asking the appropriate OPEN & CLOSED-ENDED questions….WHILE ACTIVELY LISTENING to the answers. Establishing rapport will lead you more quickly to the sale if you establish (and then practice) a routine which you are comfortable for your industry. Until next time……..
There Is No Secret to Sales Success & Establishing Rapport; it’s a process!