Over the years, each time I meet a school teacher, I ask them what they’ve discovered as the key to teaching. This past weekend in San Francisco, I met a sixth grade teacher who thoughtfully responded to my question with one word…rapport. He furthered his answer by saying that without it no teaching can occur.
No Rapport = No Selling
And then it hit me. Without rapport, no collaboration, selling or coaching can occur.
Rapport is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a close harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings, ideas and communicate well.” What’s important with this definition is that unless you know another’s feelings and ideas, you don’t have any rapport. I’ve lectured about rapport for many years and was delighted to have it reinforced by my new teacher friend.
The Risk of Establishing Rapport
There is always a risk to forging rapport with clients. It’s risky because you are making the first overture of relationship to someone. You’ll know quickly if your client is having a good/bad day and their level of openness and candor. Wherever they are, being sincere with your desire to understand their world will come through and will be appreciated and remembered. Whatever they do, it’s not personal, it’s a process. In the end, the clients worth winning, having realized your sincerity, will reward you with their honesty, allowing you to understand their world BEFORE you present your world.
To succeed at this, you need to surrender your desire to present your product/service before establishing a basis of rapport. Once you have discovered and learned your client’s challenges, then tailoring your ideas to their unique issues will bolster efforts at developing ongoing, long-lasting rapport.
What’s your biggest challenge in establishing a strong rapport with your clients?