Connecting for Success
Never has it been more important to reconnect with clients and forge relationships with new prospects. It’s tough for everyone. Even more so for smaller businesses with limited capital and resources stretched. Like Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire, they are dancing the same steps only backwards and in high heels.
Have you ever had a client cancel a meeting? Why? One word: priority. Something else came up that was, at that time, a higher priority. It bleeped on their radar and mattered more than the meeting you. What we talk about must connect to their radar whether that’s getting a result – reducing costs, growing sales – or something personal, that could boost their reputation or make them look good.
Understand that, and respect and rapport follow. Seek to understand their priorities before talking about yours. The courtship rituals of social interaction aren’t just a tick box process – they must be genuine. We build greater intimacy as we peek into their world and glimpse their sitting rooms, meet their dogs, cats and children and check out their bookcases.And them with us, too.
They say you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand them. Harper Lee put it more beautifully in To Kill a Mockingbird:
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
The word rapport stems from the French verb rapporter – literally, ‘to carry something back’. Finding something in common allows us to build rapport more easily. Linkedin and other tools allow us to connect in a natural, authentic way and build greater rapport whilst showing our interest in them.
But we still have to earn the right to ask questions which is why the RAP – it stands for ‘Reason, Agenda, Payoff’ – is so important. A good RAP when you connect shows you have THEIR interests at heart, you’re there to talk about issues that matter to THEM and from which they could (potentially) benefit.
To make it flow, write out your RAP and practise it out loud. As Shakespeare said, “Speak comfortable words”. Also, use the words YOU and YOURS – the RAP is, after all, about them and be clear on what the next steps could be. Put themin control of the meeting (they were anyway, but we oftenforget) and check in with them with a phrase such as “How does that sound?” A powerful RAP, delivered with the genuine intention of building rapport and respecting the importance of the relationship, will earn you the right to have productive conversations.
It will also make you and your business memorable – for the right reasons. And we all need to do that right now.
Isobel Rimmer is founder of training and development consultancy Masterclass Training and author of new book Natural Business Development: Unleash your people’s potential to spot opportunities, develop new business and grow revenue