The Ultimate Guide to Rapport Building With Buyers

15 Jul 24

Boost your sales by implementing these four strategies to enhance rapport with your buyers. Learn more today.

The classic sales maxim, "People buy from people they like," is supported by extensive behavioral science research. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a renowned psychologist, emphasizes the principle of liking in his influential book, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion."

A robust relationship with a buyer translates to more influence. The buyer respects your expertise, values your input in decision-making, and is more likely to become a long-term customer.

Apply these four strategies to build a strong rapport with your buyer and simplify the process of closing more deals.

1. Develop Rapport

Building rapport is one of the fastest and most effective methods for strengthening sales relationships. Rapport facilitates smoother communication by putting people at ease. Sometimes rapport develops naturally, similar to how friendships begin. Other times, you need to be more deliberate.

Four techniques to develop rapport with buyers are mirroring and matching, empathy, sharing common experiences, and active listening.

  • Mirroring and Matching

We often don't understand why we like or dislike someone. Mirroring and matching are based on the idea that people subconsciously prefer those similar to themselves, a phenomenon known as interpersonal body and neural synchronization.

Two mirroring techniques include body language and voice. For instance, if the buyer crosses their legs, you do the same. This sends a positive subconscious message that you're attentive to their non-verbal cues, signaling that you value them. Similarly, matching the pace and volume of their speech can be effective, but avoid mimicking accents.

While mirroring won't make buyers do business with you, it can make them more comfortable and open to your solutions.

  • Empathy

Empathy plays a crucial role in rapport building. Allow buyers to discuss their problems, listen to key concerns, and validate their interests. Avoid discussing your solution until the buyer has expressed their issues.

  • Sharing Common Experiences

Discovering shared experiences, like knowing a mutual acquaintance or sharing a hobby, can significantly enhance rapport. Conduct pre-call research on platforms like Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook to identify commonalities such as career history, education, or interests.

Creating shared experiences by collaborating on problem-solving can also strengthen relationships. When buyers feel you are working together, they develop a stronger connection with you and take greater ownership of the solution, aiding in closing more business.

  • Active Listening

Active listening is essential for building rapport. While most of us believe we're good listeners, research suggests we remember only 25% to 50% of what we hear. Active listening means fully focusing on understanding what the other person is saying beyond merely hearing the words.

To improve active listening:

  • Listen with the intention of understanding, paying attention to words, tone, and body language.
  • Focus entirely on the buyer, avoiding interruptions and distractions.
  • Ask questions to show you're listening and to clarify your understanding.
  • Paraphrase to confirm your understanding and show the buyer you care.

2. Build Trust

Trust is fundamental in building relationships. When buyers trust you, they believe in your promises, value your advice, and are more likely to give referrals. Trust-building behaviors include reliability, honesty, responsiveness, and objectivity.

  • Reliability: Keep promises and manage expectations.
  • Honesty: Admit when you don't know something and act ethically.
  • Responsiveness: Follow the "Sundown Rule" by responding to requests promptly.
  • Objectivity: Acknowledge the merits of competitors' solutions while highlighting your strengths.

Identify which of these behaviors you need to improve to enhance buyer trust.

3. Demonstrate Expertise

Showcasing your expertise builds confidence in buyers that you can solve their problems. Discuss your product knowledge and provide examples of how others have benefited from your solution. Preparation is key.

  • Pre-Call Research

Spend at least 30 minutes on pre-call research to understand the account. Key questions to guide your research include:

  1. What initiatives do they have?
  2. Recent news or events?
  3. Major industry trends?
  4. Key competitors?
  5. Sales opportunities?
  6. How can my solution create value?
  • Opening the Call

Use your research to demonstrate expertise early in the call. Reference buyer-specific issues or industry trends and ask thought-provoking questions to signal your understanding of their challenges.

4. Expand Your Influence in the Organization

In complex sales with multiple decision-makers, build relationships across the account. Map the account to understand key players, their influence, and your relationship strength. Address any gaps in knowledge and weak relationships to prevent competitors from gaining an advantage.

Building great business relationships is a foundational selling skill. Think about how you can enhance your rapport with buyers in upcoming calls and strengthen relationships with key decision-makers and influencers.


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