Learning how to build a rapport with clients can be complex, but it’s also extremely valuable. Rapport building in the business world is the art of developing strong, long-lasting relationships.
While building a rapport with any “consumer” of your product or service is important, it can be particularly valuable for organizations with clients. After all, clients purchase professional services and solutions, often over a long-term basis. The better your relationship with each client, the more likely it is they’ll become loyal advocates of your brand.
Let’s start with the basics: what does rapport mean?
The word “rapport” defines the harmonious relationship between two or more people. When people have “rapport” they understand each other, communicate well, and respect each other’s input and ideas. In the business landscape, rapport can be crucial to various use cases.
Leaders develop a rapport with their staff members to improve productivity and engagement. Colleagues develop rapport with the people they work with, which helps to synchronize teams and improve collaboration. Building rapport with clients, simply means finding a way to strengthen the connections you have with your consumers at every stage of their purchasing journey.
The more you build customer rapport, the more likely you are to engage, convert, and retain the clients who keep your company profitable.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for building rapport with customers. The strategy you use will depend on a number of factors, including what kind of target audience you’re trying to reach. In the B2B landscape, building rapport can be less about small talk, and more about sharing stories and insights which allow clients to make better decisions.
In the B2C world, rapport building often revolves heavily around making an emotional connection, perhaps through shared personal narratives, and empathetic language.
Some of the best ways of building rapport with clients include:
1. Ask questions:
Rapport depends on a shared understanding between two or more people. For everyone to be on the same page, someone will usually need to ask questions. The key to success is making sure you don’t ask anything too personal straight away. Ask your customers name, question their interests, and learn as much as you can about their pain points and goals. This will create talking points, and help you to tailor your sales pitch.
2. Use active listening strategies:
It’s hard to maintain a rapport with someone who feels they’re not being listened to. In order to prove you understand your customer, practice active listening. Repeat what they say back to them from time to time for clarification. Ask them to expand on the things they say, and take notes when relevant. Respond consistently to their comments, even if you’re just saying, “I understand”.
3. Communicate on their terms:
Rapport is easier to develop when your customer feels comfortable throughout the conversation. With that in mind, it’s worth thinking about how you can adapt your communication strategy to suit their needs. If they don’t like talking on the phone, offer to follow up via messenger, text, or email. If they’re struggling for time, arrange to continue your conversation at a moment that’s better for them. Showing respect for your customer’s preferences will help you build a better relationship.
4. Show empathy and adjust your tone:
Empathy is crucial to a good relationship with any client. Rather than just saying you “understand” what a customer is saying, demonstrate an authentic level of compassion. Share your own experiences to demonstrate the connection between the two of you. Remember to change your tone, when necessary, too. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to be upbeat and playful, while some conversations require a sombre tone. Pay attention to how your customer sounds and adjust accordingly.
5. Deliver genuine value:
When you’re communicating with a customer, it’s easy to focus entirely on “making a sale”. However, rapport building requires you to think about more than just your bottom line. Ask yourself how you can genuinely help the person you’re talking to. Think about how you can tailor your services or solutions to their specific pain points, and offer advice on how they can reach their goals.
6. Take notes:
Consistency is key when you want to build rapport with customers. It’s easier to achieve this when you have notes to guide you through each conversation. Make sure you pay attention to the little things, such as your customer’s favorite sports team, or the number of children in their family, so you can ask about them later. This shows you’ve taken a genuine interest in what your client is saying. It also means you’re less likely to struggle to find things to talk about in your next call.
If you want to build rapport, questions are often your best friend. They break the ice in a conversation, show your client you’re interested in them, and provide access to useful information you can use later. Giving customers a chance to open up about themselves puts them in the right frame of mind to develop a relationship with you and your brand.
Here are some rapport building questions to ask your clients:
Remember, rapport building questions don’t have to be linked directly to your product or sales strategy. Sometimes, just getting to know someone a little better can make all the difference when you’re trying to increase conversions.