Given that I support a beard and have no intention of shaving it, I still keep running into more razor blade commercials. When I say more, you will know what I mean if you have read one of my earlier blog post ‘You either win it, or lose it… by a hair’
Anyway, when I came across the following 30 second advert, it reminded me of a very important aspect in sales: Building Rapport.
I could take a good guess on which recruit has the most chances of getting that job!
Jest aside, most B2B sales professionals know very well that establishing and sustaining rapport with a prospect is a crucial part in the selling process. In the blog post ‘The scientific technique to building Professional Rapport with prospects’ the concept of ‘Matching’ is discussed – something that can be used to fine tune and even jump start rapport.
‘Matching’ in the context of building rapport essentially means… matching the following during a face-to-face meeting:
- Matching the words / communication preference (namely: visual, auditory and kinaesthetic)
- Matching the tonality (How the words are spoken) and
- Matching the body language
In this article, I want to explore ‘building rapport’ during non face-to-face interactions, particularly emails.
‘Matching’ over the phone
When speaking to a prospect or customer over the phone, there is even a greater need to build rapid rapport. Like with ‘night vision goggles’ flipping from the military helmet, what needs to happen during a phone conversation is for you to flick a switch in your mind and start paying real attention to what is being said and focus your listening skills to decipher the communication preference (Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic) of the person on the other side of the phone. Once you have worked that out, you can then match their words, match their tonality and weave their communication preference into the conversation.
Although the luxury of observing body cues is absent, it is still important to be in control of your own body language i.e. opening the call with a smile, the way you are sitting, what you are looking at, not being distracted by things happening around you etc.
‘Matching’ in written communications
In the Sales 2.0 age, a significant amount of contact with prospects and customers is done through written communication like on emails and LinkedIn. In this form of communication, because both the tonality and body cues are missing, matching the ‘words’ becomes even more important in order to build and strengthen rapport.
Communication or sensory preferences (Visual, Auditory, and Kinaesthetic) aren’t limited to the spoken word, these will also come across in written form. Read the following three emails and see if you can recognise the dominant communication preference.
I am sure you got them all right, so how about digging the last email from one of your prospect or customer and see if you can decode that one.
Anyway, here is a four-step practical way to mirror email communications:
- Mirror the Salutation; it could start with… ‘Dear Imran’, ‘Hi Imran’, ‘Imran’, ‘Hi’ or no salutation at all.
- Mirror the layout; for example, number of spaces between lines, paragraphs or no paragraphs.
- Mirror the words; for example, use similar phrases and words that reflect their communication preference.
- Mirror the sign-off; it could end with… ‘kind regards’, ‘regards’, ‘best wishes’ or nothing!
If you are thinking… signing off with nothing at the end of the email might come across rude; it won’t. For instance, most emails that are sent by executives don’t tend to have any closing remarks. If you were to reply signing-off with ‘sincerely yours’, ‘yours truly’, ‘kind regards’ or any other similar nice gesture – it might take away your ‘Executive persona’ and make you sound junior in the eyes of the executive.
So to summarise, always be on the lookout for your prospects and customers communication preference and once you figure it out, then talk to them in their language, so they can see/hear/feel your message.
Also, I probably don’t need to say this but
Building ‘professional rapport’ with prospects and customers starts from the first minute, evolves over time and never ends.