In the past, client satisfaction surveys have focused on the strength of brand, product benefits, pricing, and quality of service. However, recent studies have illustrated that these factors no longer provide the complete picture. The missing components to complete client satisfaction are two extra influencers, trust and rapport. This blog demonstrates why building and maintaining trust and rapport with your clients is critical to the success of your business, and it also reveals how to nurture the art of developing these habits of highly effective sales professionals.
The results that reveal why gaining trust and rapport with your clients is crucial to your business
Think back to the time when you met a client for the very first time. Did you ‘hit it off’ and develop a connection without even having to try? Or over time, did you both develop a common ground? If so, quite simply, you managed to create a sense of rapport, which is the basis for any relationship built on trust.
Trust and rapport are crucial for any relationship – personal or business – as they are the building blocks for understanding, appreciation and respect.
The bad news for business
The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed an alarming decrease in trust in business among the Australian public, with trust levels falling from 59% to 48%. For the first time since the Global Financial Crisis of 2009, trust in business has fallen below our trust in the government.
In a four-year international study of 600 businesses, the results found that the percentage of satisfied customers who intend to maintain their relationship with a particular firm can be as low as 21%. The main reason that customers leave is that they do not trust the firm.
When it comes to building rapport and trust, these figures can be seriously damaging to your profits and reputation. Now more than ever, the art of building and maintaining trust and rapport with your clients is a key foundation for successful business relationships.
Rapport and trust are crucial for your business, and they can be learned!
Building rapport takes practice. Likewise, gaining trust is only achieved only over time, and this is based on your reliability, consistency and the results you achieve. In essence, rapport and trust are built on two key components: character and competence.
Building Rapport: Your Character Defines Your Relationships
Rapport is developing a two-way connection with another human being. When rapport-building with new or existing clients, it’s crucial to be warm, friendly, positive, engaging, approachable, empathetic and interested. Sales environments can be tense by nature, but the more at ease you make the other person, the more likely you are to succeed. Ask questions, use humour, develop the art of small talk and ensure your client feels included, rather than interrogated.
The famous author Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Being genuine and authentic is crucial to any relationship, and prospective clients can easily sniff out when sales professionals are adopting a ‘sales persona’. Be professional, but be yourself.
A study by the University of Pennsylvania revealed that 93% of our communication occurs non-verbally, while 55% of our communication is via body language, and only 7% is the content or the words we speak. With this in mind, it’s important to practise and develop an open and warm stance. Likewise, the art of mirroring your customer’s energy and communication style is a powerful way of gaining an appreciation of how they are feeling.
Honesty is the highest form of intimacy, and transparency is one of the most important ways to deepen loyalty. A client who feels like they are being sold half-truths will automatically shut down, and you will destroy any sense of rapport you may have worked so hard to build. Honesty is the foundation for trust, and you can’t have one without the other.
Maintaining Trust: Your Competence Defines Your Success
Once you have developed a strong sense of rapport, it’s time to prove yourself. It sounds simple, but trust is only won by behaving in a trustworthy fashion. The foundation of trust is acting in a fair manner in all of your business dealings, and with so many options for products and service providers, if a client believes you are not acting fairly, they will desert you.
Working in partnership with your clients is imperative. Don’t be afraid to lead the way, but always include your clients in decision-making, and always practice reciprocity. When you treat your clients a certain way, they tend to want to treat you in the same fashion. Being collaborative in your sales strategy and execution deepens mutual respect and trust.
Being pro-active for your valued customers will demonstrate that you care about them and your relationship. Be quick, be responsive and be effective, and your clients will love you. Being pro-active decreases your support calls, as you can identify potential problems and resolve them, and since customers will talk about you – privately and on social media – your skills will allow you to control their conversation and frame it in a favourable light.
Finally, and most importantly, your customers will learn to trust you if you keep your commitments, deliver your promises, call when you say you will, and always follow through. Don’t let your customers down, and always justify their faith in you!
“When you build trust, trust follows you.”
At Workstar, we’ve invested over 8, 000 hours into innovation and building new learning technologies in the last year alone. We’re passionate about developing solutions that help your people develop rapport with your valued customers, and more importantly, gain their trust. If you’d like to learn more about our award-winning approach, please contact us on 02 8302 6300 or email us at [email protected]