If we have a strong personal or professional relationship with someone, we are more apt to listen to someone’s ideas and perspective. In short, relationship determines influence and our ability to influence others directly impacts our ability to help our clients and prospects, and ultimately, it generates sales.
Focus on the three areas of Trust, Credibility and Rapport.
- Trust (Customer Focused): Are you focused on the prospect’s needs or your own. In other words, do you have commission breath?
- Credibility (Competence): Do you have the expertise to help the prospect achieve their goals?
- Rapport (Connection): Can you build a connection by effectively adjusting to the prospect’s personality style, i.e. communication style?
It all starts with rapport, and rapport is about connecting with others. Rapport is what gets a prospect to not only engage with you but also to continue to engage with you in a meaningful “discovery conversation” where credibility and trust are created and built.
The more rapport, trust and credibility between you and a prospect, the stronger the relationship. The stronger the relationship, the more influence you have during the sales process.
Starting a conversation with a prospect that has a similar personality style (i.e. communication style) tends to be easier because people with like personality styles are more likely to naturally connect than people with dissimilar or polar opposite personality styles. If we fail to build a connection with prospects that have personality styles different from our own, new prospects are less receptive and we miss out on potential clients and sales.
The key to effectively build rapport with a client or prospect is by adapting your communication style to their communication style.
I found out early in my insurance sales years that I loved to chit-chat, make small talk and present a very friendly demeanor. This worked well for prospects who had a similar communication style as mine. The problem was this approach did not work so well with prospects that just wanted to get down to business. My small talk was wasting their time and preventing me from having quality conversations with qualified prospects.
People’s personalities are very complex. To be effective in sales and “in the moment” with a prospect, it helps to keep it simple and think about communication styles as a spectrum where we all fall somewhere on.
A Task-Oriented person may curtly, seemingly rudely, say things like this:
“What are you selling?”
“Tell me what you’re selling and I’ll tell you if I’m interested.”
Or, a Task-Oriented person may respond to the question “How are you?” with a short, less than friendly “fine.”
A Relationship-Oriented person may politely respond by saying:
“What can I do for you?”
Or, may respond to “How are you?” with “Doing well and how about yourself?”
If you are Task-Oriented, you have most likely found yourself getting impatient with Relationship-Oriented prospects. If you are Relationship-Oriented, you have probably felt as though the Task-Oriented prospect was being rude or disrespectful.
Use these three keys to effectively build rapport:
- Recognize and understand your communication style.
- Recognize the communication style of others through observation of their behavior.
- Adapt your communication style to the communication style of the prospect.
Recognizing Your Own Communication Style and That of Others
To identify your communication style and the communication style of others, look for observable behavior. Some observable behaviors are:
- Are concerned more with the task at hand and business (a person that doesn’t stop what they are doing when talking to you).
- Are challenging.
- Appear less open, reserved.
- Use fewer gestures.
- Less interested in chit-chat and small talk (it’s a waste of their time and frustrates them).
- Like to get down to business quickly.
- Like to stick to the time allotted for a meeting.
- May seem rude to a Relationship-Oriented person.
- Have a friendlier demeanor (a person that drops what they are doing to fully engage in conversation).
- Value personal connection before business connection (getting down to business too fast turns them off).
- Enjoy small talk.
- Are more expressive with body language and facial expressions.
- Can be okay with meetings running longer if a personal connection is made.
- May seem long-winded to a Task-Oriented person.
Adapting Your Communication Style to the Style of Others
Below are some tips to being more effective at building rapport with prospects.
Interacting with a Task-Oriented Person
- Act business-like at all times.
- Have an agenda and stick to it.
- Get to the bottom line, i.e. “stop circling the airport and land the damn plane.”
- Answer directly and to the point – eloquence in brevity.
- Don’t use personal stories.
- Be confident. Never say “I think…”
- Be organized.
- Don’t be vague or pushy.
Interacting with a Relationship-Oriented Person
- Be warm and friendly. Don’t be curt.
- Share stories and personal anecdotes
- Be patient. Let them share their thoughts.
- Have an agenda but have a short relational conversation before getting down to business.
- Don’t move too fast.
- Give them more time to respond to questions.
Understanding your communication style, observing and recognizing the communication style of your prospects and adapting your style to theirs will help you more effectively build rapport, engage in more meaningful conversations and fill your pipeline with more prospects.