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A staggering 85% of buyers of marketing services say they’re more likely to purchase from a provider with whom they’ve established some kind of rapport or personal chemistry. Why? Because people prefer to do business with people they like–or who they feel are like them.

Some people are naturally gregarious, who you might refer to as “people people.” They thrive on meeting new people and establishing new relationships. But for others, meeting people for the first time and establishing new business relationships is stressful and uncomfortable.

Five Steps to Build Rapport with Your Prospects

  1. Be Yourself – Be Genuine.
    You can’t maintain a fake persona over time, so don’t try to be someone you’re not. Most importantly, don’t try to be “salesy”. Just relax and be yourself.
  2. Be Sensitive to Time, But Not Pushy.
    You’ll never get to know someone if you use your hour talking about your firm or yourself. Too many inexperienced new business people walk into a meeting, open up their Mac and walk through a PowerPoint credentials presentation. Don’t. You’ve got to come across as a real person: if you jump right into business you may create a tense environment. Start by getting to know the other person, and then use your intuition about when to make the switch to business conversation. Wait too long and they will wonder if you’re just wasting their time.
  3. Balance Asking Questions with Talking/Advising.
    If you ask too many questions, or too personal questions too early, your conversation may feel like an interrogation. The trick is to balance smart questions with talking about yourself, providing real-life examples, or offering suggestions or advice. Your goal is a comfortable balance of the two.
  4. Active Listening.
    All of us are guilty of barely listening to the person we’re with, while we wait to jump in with what we want to say. The single most important thing you can do to build rapport is to listen. When you’re actively listening you’ll hear opportunities many other salespeople will miss.
  5. Mirroring.
    We feel more comfortable when we believe people are similar to us.  It could be something to do with your job, family, school, home town, sports, hobbies, travel, or anything else. If your prospect believes that you understand where they’re coming from, and feel their pain with them, they’re more likely to trust you. And that’s the vital first step to making the sale.

While being liked may not win you the business, it can tilt the odds in your favor.