Building good rapport with clients and customers is vitally important. At the end of the day, strong client relationships are only created once people like, know, and trust you.
Let’s look at 50 of the very best rapport builders that will help you achieve your goal of great client relationships and more business.
1. Use the Customer’s Name
There is no sweeter sound than your own name. Using a person’s name is also the easiest way to build rapport with them. Also, if they have a unique name, then you may want to ask about that. One word of warning: don’t overdo this. 1-2 times during the conversation is enough. For example, avoid saying something like:
“Well Bob, I’m glad you’ve called us today. Now, Bob, according to our research, your company has a hard time recruiting and retaining staff members. The thing is, Bob, solving this issue doesn’t have to be a chore. What you have to do Bob…”
Finally, learn how to pronounce difficult names before you meet the customer.
2. Congratulate Them on Important Dates
Do you have access to the clients’ personal information like their birthday, anniversary, or other special dates? This is a great time to send well wishes. It may seem cheesy, but this does work. For example, company milestones are a great opportunity to get in touch and build a strong relationship. You could send an email and write, “Wow! You’ve been in business for ten years. On this special milestone, we’d just like to remind you…” When doing this, you may want to go one step further and send a personalized letter or even a gift basket.
3. Ask Their Advice
Asking for advice and suggestions is a great way to build rapport. It makes the customer feel like an important person and helps to engage them. If you’ve traveled to meet the person, you may want to ask about a place to eat or local attractions. Next time you see them, be sure to mention or comment on the usefulness of their advice.
4. Admit to a Damaging Flaw and Address It
What you want to do here is admit to some damaging flaw regarding yourself or your product. You then address the flaw and use this as a way to deepen your personal connection. This is a fantastic way to create a sense of trust between you and the client. Just avoid admitting something too damaging. Your flaw should be somewhat superficial and easy to address. “Before we get started, I need to be upfront. We’re having a serious problem with logistics right now. That means our lead time is going to be a little longer than usual. If you’re okay with that…”
5. Pay Attention to Your Facial Expressions
You want to avoid having a face like thunder. Steer clear of facial expressions which convey boredom, conceit, arrogance, or any other negative emotion. Also, remember to smile, but don’t sit there grinning like an idiot. Ideally, you’ll want to look happy, animated, and as if you really care. The best way to do this is by having a genuine interest in what the customer is saying. Do this even when you’re making a phone call.
6. Sum up What They’ve Said
From time to time, you should summarize what’s been said during the meeting or call. This reassures the customer that you’re actually listening and paying attention. You could say, “Okay, I just want to clarify what we’ve spoken about on this sales call…” Just avoid repeating their exact words back to them.
7. Maintain Eye Contact
This goes without saying. That being said, some people struggle with eye contact. If you’re one of these people, then look at the space between their eyes. Also, avoid too much eye contact. Find natural places to look away. Looking up and to the left is a great technique. This makes it seem as if you’re thinking about what they’re saying.
8. Make Eye Contact With Every Person in the Room
Are you a professional speaker? As you deliver your speech, try to make eye contact with each person in your audience. Do this for a few seconds, then move on. At that moment, make it seem as if you’re speaking directly to that person.
9. Stand When Making Calls
Did you know that some radio personalities prefer to stand while broadcasting? There are several reasons why this helps. First of all, standing changes the intonation of your voice. Standing is also a great way to increase your energy and power. Experiment with this the next time you phone a client. Get up, walk around the room, and see how it affects your mood.
10. Use Jokes, but Be Careful
If you have a great joke, then use it to lighten the mood. While this can work, be careful. Your joke should actually be funny. Jokes that fall flat can dampen the mood. Also, make sure to avoid inappropriate or off-color jokes.
11. Don’t Keep Them Waiting
When meeting somewhere, arrive first. If you have to leave the room, or transfer clients on a call, be as fast as possible.
12. Apologize after Making Mistakes
When dealing with angry customers, you should apologize quickly and upfront. A genuine and honest apology helps to calm them down. It also goes a long way towards rebuilding goodwill.
13. Never Break a Promise
Building trust with clients can be incredibly difficult. Not only that, one mistake or broken promise can destroy years of mutual trust. In order to avoid this, never let your clients or customers down. Never lie to or deceive your clients in any way. Be reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it, whether this is delivering a product or showing up for a meeting or phone call.
14. Under Promise and Over Deliver
The basic rule of thumb is this: avoid overselling yourself and setting unrealistic expectations. Instead, you should under-promise and over-deliver. Doing this is a great way to impress potential and existing clients. It not only builds rapport, but greatly increases the chances that they will continue to work with you.
15. Use “Yes” Sets
The idea here is that once a person has said yes a few times, they will continue doing it. Start by asking several questions that have yes as their obvious answer. Then drop in the question that you really want to ask. In this case, you could say something like, “Do you love baseball? Do you love your wife? Do you love your kids? Do you want to increase your business with us?”
16. Allow Them to Vent
Sometimes customers want to vent. Maybe they’re angry with another vendor or frustrated by their problems. Give them as much time as they need to do this. Simply sit back and listen. People always feel better once they get things off their chest. They also feel positive emotions toward the person who listens to their complaints.
17. Use Your Onboarding Process
Onboarding is the process new clients go through when they start doing business with you. This process provides a great opportunity for building rapport. One way you can do this is by sending out a questionnaire to your clients. This helps to ensure you have everything needed to get started. You could also do this by scheduling a meeting with them, sending them a welcome package, or giving them access to your knowledge base. If you’re selling a product, you can enhance the customer experience by sending a personalized thank you note. You may also want to include discount coupons for future purchases.
18. Don’t Embarrass Clients
Never criticize clients, point out their mistakes, or do anything to hurt their pride. Never diminish clients or react poorly to bad news. If they do make a mistake, do everything you can to let them save face. Human beings are going to make mistakes. When this happens with a client, it’s best to keep quiet about it.
19. Ask Open-ended Questions
When you first meet new people, ask one or two ice-breaking questions that have nothing to do with business. These can be questions related to their location, their job or career, their education, their interests, mutual connections, or their company. Books, movies, and TV shows are another way to find common ground. Once this small talk is over with, you can then move on to important things.
20. Dress the Part
Be mindful of your appearance and how you’re dressed. The worst thing you can do is look like a slob. Make sure to get a good haircut, shave, and trim your nails. Use deodorant. If you have problems with your teeth, you may want to visit a dentist (while this might sound superficial, it does help.) Another good rule is to dress slightly better than the client, but without being overdressed. You may also want to dress the way your clients do. If you’re dealing with a jeans-and-t-shirt person, then wear jeans and a t-shirt.
21. Talk about Shared Experiences
Try to find commonalities between yourself and new customers. In some cases, you may have to engineer this. For example, if you’ve recently attended a seminar, conference, or networking event, then this is a great place to find clients. The simple reason is that you can build rapport through this shared experience.
22. Do Your Research
In order to build rapport with the client, you need a good understanding of them. This is critical if you’re going to ask the right questions, find things in common, and discover shared experiences. Research also helps you better meet the customer’s needs. The best way to do this is by using the internet. Search for them on Google. Visit their website and social media profiles (especially LinkedIn.) If you can, try to talk to people who know the person. An easy way to do this is by sending these people emails. You should also gather as much information as you can on the person’s goals, pain points, desires, and needs.
23. Be Available for Clients
Keep channels of communication open. Talk to clients whenever they want to talk. Do this no matter how inconvenient it is. If this means spending time with clients over the weekend or in the evening, then bite the bullet and do it. Also, make sure to respond to client communications immediately. This is important because electronic communication often seems impersonal. By responding immediately, it feels more like you’re having an actual conversation. Even if you’re not ready to answer their questions, at least let the client know that you’ve received their communication.
24. Practice Matching and Mirroring
This is a psychological technique where you mimic the client’s body language, posture, and intonation. To do this, pay close attention to how your client moves, sits, and talks. Then begin to subtly copy these things. The key here is to be subtle. You don’t want them to catch on to what you’re doing.
25. Check in on Clients
Don’t ignore your customer base once they’ve started doing business with you. Call them at least once a month, or better yet, visit in person. Ask how the customer feels and if there’s anything you can do for them. This is a great way to stay abreast of your client’s needs and handle problems before they arise. You may also want to implement quarterly customer meetings and reviews.
26. Respect Their Time
Don’t waste your clients’ time. Set clear time frames for meetings, projects, and deliverables. If anything changes, then let them know immediately. This is critical if you want a harmonious relationship with your client. Also, if you call and the person is busy, don’t try to browbeat them into talking with you. While many people will tell you not to take “no” for an answer, this isn’t always the best advice.
27. Ask for Feedback
This should be a basic part of your customer service process. An effective way to do this is by simply sending the customer an email. Ask if they’re willing to provide feedback about your product or if there’s anything you can do for them. Also, ask if they have any problems with your service or product.
28. Don’t Interrupt the Client
If the client is talking, all you should do is sit back and practice your active listening skills. Only start talking when they have nothing left to say. Remember, there’s nothing more attractive than a good listener. Another good rule is to listen more than you talk.
29. Be Empathetic
Empathy is an important factor when it comes to emotional intelligence. The way to demonstrate this is by making an empathy statement. Basically, allow the person to talk. Then mention that you feel the same way or that you’ve dealt with the same issue, problem, and situation. Follow this up by telling the person that you understand their struggles. Also, mention that you’re there to help and that you have their best interest at heart.
30. Provide Real Value
When dealing with business owners, you need to provide something of substance. This could be things such as hard-to-find information, cheaper prices, improved quality, access to your network, faster delivery, enhanced customer service, or simply good service. If you have nothing to offer, you’re unlikely to make a good first impression. When meeting potential customers for the first time, think about what you can do for them.
31. Be Present
You need to be focused 100% on the client. Give your full concentration to the person sitting in front of you. Close the door and turn off your phone. Don’t let your mind wander or daydream. If you do this, you could miss out on important details. The person will also pick up on it. If this happens, you’ll diminish your rapport.
32. Make Them Feel Important (Because they are!)
People love to feel superior to others. Let the client know that you recognize their superiority. You can do this by mentioning some achievements in their personal lives, such as their education. You may also want to mention something they have done in business or professionally. Just be careful when doing this. You need to sound genuinely impressed.
33. Think about Your Voice
Vocal tonality is the first step of effective communication. Avoid talking in a flat, dull, or boring voice. Warm up your voice before calling or meeting someone. Put energy and emotion into what you say. Listen to great speakers and copy their delivery. Also, think about things like your volume and the way you emphasize certain words.
34. Try to See Things from Their Point of View
This goes hand in hand with having empathy for people. When building customer rapport, you need to legitimately put yourself in their shoes. Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like if you were dealing with their problem. How would it feel, and what would you do about it? How would you want to be helped? Doing this is also a great way to brainstorm rapport-building questions.
35. Let Them Come to You
This goes back to the concept of inbound and outbound marketing. You basically want people to come to you. Customers who do this are always better customers. They are presold, actively looking for solutions, and interested in what you have to say. This means you have a much better chance of building rapport and turning these people into loyal clients. There are dozens of ways to do this. The easiest is by using the internet. Set up a website with positive reviews and testimonials. You can also start a blog, make videos, create lead magnets, hold webinars, get active on social media, and use online advertising or SEO.
It’s going to take time and effort to build your people skills. This is why sales representatives should practice rapport building. You should attempt to meet as many new people as possible and practice your skills on them. A good place to do this is at networking events, seminars, and conferences.
37. Be Polite
Manners are one of the basics of good communication. Use please and thank you. Also, make sure to thank customers for their time (even if they decide not to do business with you.)
38. Use Demonstrations
If you’re in a customer-facing role (such as a shop floor salesperson), then demonstrate how the product works. When doing this, allow the customer to hold and use the product. In this way, they get to “test drive” what you’re selling. This allows you to engage with customers and ask them questions. Giving away samples is also a great chance to build connections. Another great idea is demonstrating your service. For example, if you’re a carpet cleaner, you can offer to clean one room for free.
39. Follow up Quickly
Train your sales team to follow up with potential leads immediately. The longer you wait, the less chance you have of developing a good relationship with potential clients. It’s also rude to keep people waiting.
40. Use Their Representational System
According to psychologists, we each have something known as a representational system. These systems basically affect the words we use. For example, some people have a visual system and use visual phrases such as “This looks nice.” Different people have auditory systems and use phrases like “Sounds good.” Then you have those with a kinesthetic system. These people use phrases like “Feels right.” What you want to do is listen keenly to the way your clients talk. Listen for when they use words with visual, auditory, or kinesthetic meaning. Wait until a pattern has been established, and then begin to feed these words and phrases back to them.
41. Ask for Referrals and Feedback
We often feel goodwill towards people who ask for our help. We also tend to build personal relationships with people we’ve helped. There are two ways you can implement these ideas. First, ask for customer feedback and reviews. Second, ask satisfied customers to refer you to other people.
42. Use Activities
Get out of the office and do something fun with your customers. For example, golf is an age-old way to bond with clients. You could probably think of dozens of other examples. Maybe a cruise around the harbor, an evening of bowling, or a wine tasting trip? This is also a great way for team members to bond with each other. At the very least, you can take your clients out for dinner.
43. Give Gifts
Useful gifts are a great way to kick off a friendly relationship. If you’re going to do this, avoid things like pens and other junk. Instead, sit down and think about what your client will actually find useful.
44. Tailor Your Products
Different customers have different needs. Offering to customize your solution or product is a good way to increase customer satisfaction. Talk over these options during your initial meeting with prospective customers. This helps to get them engaged.
45. Use Inspiration and Motivation
This is a great way to persuade clients. Talk about the fantastic results other people have achieved with your products. Praise these clients for their success and good work. Motivational speeches, videos, blogs posts, and emails also work well. You basically want to inspire the client to make a decision.
46. Talk about What They Want
Avoid talking too much about yourself or your products. People are only interested in what they want. Talk about this and show them how to get what they want.
47. Phrase Things Positively
Refrain from using negative language. Instead of saying the glass is half empty, say that it’s half full.
48. Communicate Frequently
The easiest way to do this is through email. Try to get customers to sign up for your email newsletter. Send these emails weekly or even daily. You can use this platform to communicate with people on a personal level, sell products, or share valuable information. Another powerful technique is setting up a print newsletter.
49. Find & Use Your Signature Handshake Substitute
Traditionally, handshakes were a good way to build rapport. In some circles, they still are. If your customer is comfortable with shaking hands, then your handshake should be quick, brisk, and firm. Also, maintain eye contact while shaking hands and avoid crushing the life out of the other person’s hand. This often puts people off.
After the onset of COVID-19, various handshake alternatives became acceptable. If your customer does not shake hands, be prepared with your preferred alternative and deliver warmly and genuinely.
50. Don’t Be in a Rush
Here’s one last thing you need to understand: building positive relationships with customers takes time. You need to learn how to be patient. Don’t try to get intimate with people too fast; otherwise, you’ll end up repelling them. Also, realize that this is a numbers game. Unfortunately, you’re not going to hit it off with everyone, no matter how hard you try. This is why continual prospecting is such an important part of the sales process.
Building genuine connections with people is the key to great rapport. With proper training and experience, you can develop a close relationship with almost anyone. The benefits of building rapport are numerous, the most important being that you’ll close more sales.
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