Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s all about who you know.”? In business and in life, creating a network of trusted people can help you become more successful. This is why it’s important to learn how to build rapport with your clients as a business owner. What is Rapport?
Rapport means building a strong relationship. Building rapport is akin to getting along with someone and trusting them. Some traits that describe good rapport are as follows:
- Mutual attentiveness: Both you and the client are focused on one another when speaking to each other
- Positivity: You both show a genuine concern for one another’s wellbeing
- Non-Verbal Cues: Your body language is similar, indicating you’re socially in-sync and can have open communication
Asa small business owner, you will want to build rapport with your clients in the same way a salesman likes to get cozy with customers. It is in your best interest to get to know your clients on a human level and tend to their needs. This is why customer service thrives with personal touches like smart web chat services. Buyers want a personal experience.
Benefits of Building Rapport with Clients
Having a good relationship with those you do business with will enable you to expand your network and your business. Happy clients are much more likely to recommend your product or services to someone else. As you can imagine, customer feedback is crucial, so remember to keep good juju. One way to monitor the rapport between you and your clients is to gather feedback regularly with automated tools.
At the end of the day, when there is a good rapport between you and your clients, you are much more likely to keep their business. Plus, a recent study by Harvard Business School showed just how profitable repeat customers are: A customer’s sixth purchase was an average of 40% higher than their first, and their 8th purchase was an average of 80% higher. Basically, the longer a customer stays with you, the larger their purchases get. Courting or building great rapport with your current customers is the key is building a successful company.
How to Build Rapport with Clients
Now that we’ve established how important building good rapport is, it’s time to get into the details. If you want to work on building client rapport, this article will go over the ways you can win over even the toughest of clients.
- Step 1: Breaking the Ice
- Step 2: Nonverbal Rapport Building
- Step 3: Rapport-Building Activities
Ready to start building rapport?
Step 1: Breaking the Ice
Building rapport with clients starts from the very beginning of your relationship. As soon as you meet someone new who could be a potential client or customer, it’s time for you to turn on the charm. It may sound silly to think you’re “courting” clients, but you do want to be a little extra endearing if you want to win them over.
Remember how important relationships are to the success of your business! No matter if you’re a builder, plumber, nail artist, or any other type of small business owner, there is no harm in fostering relationships with those who support your company.
The first step to building client rapport is to simply initiate conversation. Some call it making small talk or breaking the ice. Some easy ways to break the ice are as follows.
- Find common ground: A great, non-invasive way to chat with a new person is to find common ground. Do you like his or her shirt, do you have similar struggles, do you both like the current weather? There are many ways to find common ground or establish shared experiences, and once you can do that, you’ll notice both of you start easing up.
- Share a laugh: If you consider yourself to be a little funny, go ahead and throw a casual joke into the conversation. Sharing a laugh is an instant way to connect with somebody.
- Be polite and genuine: Politeness and open-mindedness both go a long way when trying to connect with new people. Be empathetic, smile, and don’t bring up polarizing topics. Focus on fine-tuning your emotional intelligence to become more empathetic and understanding.
- Use similar language: Mirror the speech of him/her by using some of the same words in conversation. This keeps you from coming off as patronizing or rude. You don’t want to make someone feel inferior to you—this will result in an uneven relationship.
Step 2: Nonverbal Rapport Building
Next, it’s all about the nonverbal cues you’re giving off. What is your body language saying? Are your arms crossed? Are you looking him or her in the eye? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when speaking with a potential new client (and thereafter once they become your client).
Think about the signals your movements are sending. Sometimes, body language speaks louder than words, and you want to be sure you’re complimenting your client. The last thing you want to do is look disinterested when they are doing their part trying to get to know you. To ensure you’re putting out a good signal, some body language tips to keep in mind:
- Maintain eye contact
- Lean slightly towards him/her to indicate interest
- If appropriate, mirror body language (this often comes naturally)
- A nod to show you’re listening
Step 3: Rapport Building Activities
Lastly, to become better at establishing meaningful connections with clients, you can participate in rapport-building activities. These activities are simple social challenges that help you practice the right habits that endear you to others. You will also become more comfortable with striking up a conversation with just about anyone thanks to these activities—rapport-building is useful in everyday life!
There are many types of rapport-building activities you can try. To get you started, we’ve listed some of our favorites. Many of these you’ll want to do with your customer service staff, so it doubles as team-building as well!
- Personal challenge: Chat up someone in line at the grocery store, and see what kind of amazing connections you can make. You’ll be surprised what total strangers are willing to share if you show an inkling of interest.
- Celebrate birthdays. This will help everyone become more connected in and out of your office. It’s an easy way to spark many conversations between employees, and clients will feel special that you remembered their special day (maybe offer a discount?).
- Play One-Question Ice Breaker from this list with your employees to get everyone acquainted with asking appropriate questions.
- How are we the same? Ask your team to go through and list all the similarities amongst the group—it could be as simple as everybody owning cell phones.
- How do we differ? Similar to the above exercise, this activity is a little tougher but it is more rewarding. It helps people become more empathetic towards those who differ from them.
- How can we help? Lastly, look at how everyone is valuable to one another. Because a good relationship is balanced, this activity will help you appeal to your client in a way that’s also beneficial to them.
There are many ways to charm your potential clients into becoming genuine connections. Though there are some great reputation management tools available, wouldn’t it be nice not having to use them too often? Your rapport-building strategy should be focused on sincerity, good listening, and the willingness to connect with others. Opening yourself up to meaningful connections can help your business reach new heights. People want to buy from people, and once you establish how similar you are to your client, the more the both of you want to help each other out. Now, doesn’t that sound like a nice way to do business?