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Seven Tips to Establish Rapport with Potential Prospects

November 30, 2011

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 03:00 AM PST

Being able to build rapport with potential prospects will be a very valuable skill when trying to launch a new business.  This is important because not only do people buy from people they like, but also because having rapport will greatly improve an entrepreneur’s ability to control and manage an opportunity through a sales cycle.  Below are a few tips that can be used to try to positively trigger rapport with prospects.

1.  Display Humility

Finding times to display humility can sometimes establishing a friendlier atmosphere when dealing with prospects.  This might actually sound counterintuitive as we have always been taught to act very confident and assertive as an entrepreneur and showing humility in many ways is the exact opposite of that as it is showing that you are modest and at times imperfect.  You certainly want to be confident in whom you are, in the products you sell, and confident in the company you have built.  But to show the prospect at different times that you are human and in some ways very normal or average can help to create a more friendly and personal relationship.

2.  Compliment the competition

Another counterintuitive tactic to increase rapport with prospects is to give a compliment to the competition that you are competing against.  Of course you will want to follow this up with some areas where the competition might have weaknesses or where you clearly have strengths over them.

By sharing something positive about the competition, you will create some powerful impressions in that moment.  You will be displaying confidence since you are not afraid to share that type of competitive information.  You will also be presenting yourself more as an advisor than a sales person as you will be sharing valuable information.  Lastly, you will stand to improve your level of credibility due to the fact that if you are sharing information about the competition, you might be sharing true information about your business and products.

3.  Disqualify the prospect

Sticking with the counterintuitive theme, we can also stand to increase rapport by disqualifying the prospect.  Disqualifying is sales tactic that is a takeaway where you question if the prospect is a good for what you are selling.  By telling the prospect that you are not sure if what you have is right for them, you might decrease the prospect’s guard as they may view you as looking out for their best interest and this can help to build rapport.

4.  Respect the prospect’s time

A very minor thing we can do to help build rapport with prospects is to always respect their time.  If we are calling them, we need to make sure they are available and we are not interrupting anything.  If we are starting a scheduled meeting, we need to confirm that they are still available and identify if there is a particular time when they need the meeting to end.  We can also demonstrate during the meetings that we are aware of the time and managing the flow of the meeting so that we do not over extend what the prospect has given us.  These minor steps can show that we respect them and can have a positive impact on rapport.

5.  Move forward on the prospect’s terms

If we are too pushy with prospects in terms of trying to move deals along, we can negatively impact the rapport we have with them.  If we say that is a safe outcome to assume, then we might be able to operate in the direction that if we do the opposite of pushing the prospect along by letting them lead in terms of direction and pace, then we could stand to increase rapport.

Here are some questions that can build rapport in sales: What direction to you want to go? What do you want to do next? When would you like me to check back with you? When would you like to meet again?

It is important to note that this approach is only good if we have executed well in other key areas like building interest, qualifying the prospect, and identifying pain. If we have not been successful in those areas, if let the prospect lead, they might not lead us anywhere.

6.  Listen to the prospect

One tactic that can build rapport and strong relationship is to simply listen to the prospect.  It can be a common for us to get excited and talk too much about the business that we have built and what we are selling.  But if we can stop and focus on listening to the prospect, and let them know that we are listening, we can stand to increase the level of rapport.

7.  Understand the prospect

Taking listening to the next level is to let the prospect know you understand them in terms of what they are thinking and trying to say.  We as humans have a need and desire to be understood and by letting a prospect know that we hear and understand what they are saying and where they are coming from can help to build rapport.

Michael Halper is Founder and CEO of Launch Pad Solutions, LLC, a sales consulting and outsourcing firm that helps businesses to take off and get to the next level. Read more about Michael here.

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