The dictionary definition of rapport is - ‘relation, connection, sympathy, emotional bond, spiritualistic touch...’
Personally, I would swap, in a business context anyway, sympathy for empathy, emotional bond is still valid and spiritualistic touch, I guess, should be for times with your religious mentor if you have one.
For me, ‘business rapport’ is typified by a trusting open relationship where a candid and honest exchange of views can take place to explore mutually interesting outcomes.
The followings ‘4 C’s’ represent what any vendor representative needs to create or use to establish sufficient rapport to get a professional sales dialogue moving, they are;
- Credibility. Are you dependable and reliable, do you represent a financially viable company, do your products and services have a great reputation and consistently deliver on their promises?
- Competency. Even if all the above is true, are you and your organisation capable of deploying any future solution in this particular client environment and do you have the references to back it up?
- Candidness. Are you honest enough and have sufficient integrity, to walk away from the clients issue, if you know full well at the end of this first discussion you don’t have a viable solution to meet their needs?
- Concerned. Are you really concerned and interested to solve your clients opportunity or issues to the degree where your objective at the end of the project is to turn it into a glowing external reference and case study?
These are what you have to truly feel before you meet the client because his or her own intuition antenna will be on full alert and mutual trust will not be built without them.
The first meeting.
So let’s just check before you knock on this person’s door…
a) Have you done your background research on this client and their company?
b) Have you an agreed agenda and timing for the meeting?
c) Have you taken the time to call the persons PA and ask subtle but important details like what the dress culture of this organisation is?
First impressions count, so having sorted your head and attitude out and conscious that you are wearing the right clothing, therefore feeling confident and relaxed, the next step is ensuring that your physical introduction is all that it should be.
The first 30 seconds are incredibly simple to do and even simpler to mess up, which will take you a while to recover from if you do.
So assuming the clients PA has escorted you into their office the first thing you need to be doing is ‘calibrating’. This is a fancy word for doing something that you’ve done since birth but probably now unconsciously overlook sometimes, which is really noticing the prospects body language and mood so that you can effect an empathetic introductory statement.
This is now the time to consider some very subtle NLP techniques called ‘matching and mirroring’. It’s a known fact that if you mirror exactly the posture of your prospect they will warm to you.
It’s important to know that the use of NLP, Behavioural Styles or other Psychological tools is strictly not about ‘manipulation’.
What we are trying to achieve is the most harmonious interpersonal environment so that both parties maximise the usefulness of the meeting and can move forward productively in an atmosphere of ‘high rapport’.
Personally, I believe these methods should be taught in schools. I’m convinced the world would be a happier and more settled place...