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Given the fact that people tend to do business with people they know, like and trust, what is the best way to build rapport with a prospect? Most salespeople think bonding and rapport is accomplished in some cursory chit-chat about a common interest discovered at the beginning of the sales call. However, bonding and rapport in Sandler Training goes well beyond this superficial approach. Following are four ways you can develop a deeper level of bonding and rapport with your prospects.


1.       Protect the Prospect’s OK’ness

We are all “I” centered. It is important to remember that everyone, no matter who it is, wants to feel good about himself. We call this “OK’ness”. A salesperson can get tripped up by a prospect’s rude or defensive attitude, if he does not realize the prospect is simply fighting for “OK’ness”. The self-aware salesperson knows that a sales call is no place to get his emotional needs met. Rather than responding in kind, the salesperson can choose to behave in a nurturing and understanding way. Often times, this will diffuse the situation and build trust.

2.       Become a Stroke Machine

A stroke is a unit or statement of recognition. We all have the need or hunger for recognition and stimulation by strokes. One of the best ways to bond and build trust is to offer sincere, positive feedback to your prospects. This isn’t flattery.  Rather, it is a nurturing statement that build the self-esteem of the prospect.

3.       Match and Mirror

People like people like themselves. So, as a professional salesperson, you can use a technique called mirroring to match your prospect’s body language so that your prospect relaxes and feels comfortable in your presence. Subtly mirroring a prospect’s tone of voice, favorite speech patterns, or cadence is another way to establish commonality. With practice,  you can also clue in to a prospect’s learning style, personality preferences, and other traits. By “reading” your prospects’ cues and “living” in their world, you can quickly establish rapport and begin to improve your sales proficiency.

4.       Listen, Listen, Listen

Often when salespeople are in front of a prospect, they are distracted, half-listening, or thinking ahead to their response to what is being said. As a salesperson, your first and foremost goal is to obtain information regarding the prospect’s needs, wants and intentions. Only then can you determine if you have an appropriate product or service to offer. To obtain the information, you must ask appropriate questions, then listen, listen, listen.

Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding in the sales process. The salesperson must attend to the prospect fully then, repeat in the prospect’s own words what he or she has said. This process assures mutual understanding, and leads to the prospect feeling heard and understood. For information on the “how to’s” of active listening, check out this article at MindTools.

Practicing these strategies takes time and reinforcement.  What are you willing to try out this week to achieve greater levels of bonding and rapport with your prospects?


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