The rapport you have with your customers is inversely proportional to the chances of you closing the sale.

If you spend the bulk of your time establishing rapport, you will have an easy close.

But if you spend only a fraction of the appointment doing that, and the rest trying to sell, you will experience great difficulty.

But what is rapport?

It is nothing more than your ability to relate to your customers in a way that creates a level of trust and understanding.

It will make your customers feel at ease with you such that they are willing to share their concerns and considerations voluntarily so that you can address them accordingly.

Here are three areas of engagement that can help you forge a stronger rapport with your customers:

Physical engagement

When you are meeting your customers in person, it is necessary for you to engage them with the appropriate facial expression, body language and hand gestures.

In general, there are two ways you can do this — by following your customers’ visual cues or leading them with yours.

To effectively follow their visual cues, you only need to remember this: follow the positive.

If your prospect smiles, you too should smile.

And if he shakes his head disapprovingly about something during the discussion, you should do the same to show that you are agreeing with his disapproval.

Leading customers using visual cues is helpful to test the interest level of your customers.

If you lean forward to present your idea on paper and he leans forward to look at it too, it shows that he is interested in what you are sharing with him.

2 Mental engagement

Customers like to associate with people who are able to see an issue from their perspective — in other words, thinking how they think.

This is why sales people spend plenty of time trying to figure out how their customers function.

However, it is risky to take references from customers you have met and use them as a gauge to predict what might happen when meeting new customers.

Therefore, when it comes to engaging your prospects mentally, you too need to be fluid.

One of the ways in which you can engage your customers is by asking them thought-provoking and intriguing questions.

This will stimulate them on a mental level, helping them to see from a different angle and explore new possibilities.

These questions do not need to be related to what you are selling, but must be appropriate enough for them to answer you comfortably.

The questions should not be intrusive or obvious. For example, if you already know that your customer is married, do not attempt to ask if he is.

Emotional engagement

Emotional engagement is very different from emotional selling.

It is getting your customers emotionally involved without the intention to sell.

You do not want to risk having them feeling anything negative and not knowing about it.

You also want to slowly build up in them a positive feeling so that when the time comes for you to ask them to sign on the dotted line, they will be inclined to proceed.

One of the ways to do so is to inspire them.

Regardless of whether your customer is a blue-collar employee, white-collar professional or a big-time businessman, everyone needs a little inspiration.

During the conversation, if you realise that your customer is undergoing some challenges or facing some personal issues, give him a little encouragement to help ease his anxiety and fear.

Even if you do not have a ready solution that can help him to solve his issues, he will still appreciate your kind gesture.

Article contributed by Jacky Chua, the author of SOLD: Everything You Need to Know About Selling Anything. He is with Richard Gavriel Speaker Management. E-mail him at Richard@RichardGavriel.com