Building and Strengthening Rapport That Leads To Repeat Business

It is a characteristic of human nature that people would rather do business with people that they like, all else being equal. If the rapport is strong enough then they will even do business with that person despite the fact that others are offering a better deal.

If your business does not have a system in place for ensuring that you are building excellent rapport with your high value clients and suppliers then you are missing out on a potential fortune.

In one of my businesses we had a supplier that we spent a lot of money with. One day I returned to my office and found that this supplier had rung me only 5 minutes earlier. I returned his call but it was diverted to his secretary. I told her that I was returning the gentleman's call that he had made 5 minutes before.

The secretary was very rude to me. She told me that he couldn't possibly have called me 5 minutes ago because he has been in meetings all day and she couldn't disturb him with my telephone call.

I was unhappy with this treatment. This particular supplier was often overly difficult to deal with and now his secretary was treating me rudely. I immediately called in my appropriate staff member and told him to find an alternate supplier who was easier to deal with and who hired staff who had good manners.

This supplier's lack of a rapport building system cost him a lot of money!

I wonder if your business is losing money because you don't have a rapport building system in place.

Rapport building shouldn't be left to your sales people. Rapport building has to be a matter of policy throughout your organization. If you do it properly it won't require your staff spending any more time in client interactions. It is a matter of style that counts; quality of communication not quantity.

How many of your staff have read and regularly apply the teaching found in the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie? Have you read the book? Do you apply the principles? A study of self made multimillionaires found that most of them had read that book at least ten times. I make a habit of reading it once every three months and have done so for years.

Let me give you an example of the financial power of an employee using good rapport building skills.

When I was still working as an employee I secured the position of sales manager in a company that provided computerized workstations into the manufacturing industry. These workstations sold in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 at a 40% profit margin.

Immediately upon arriving at my new employers I did one of my favorite tricks, I asked if I could be allocated, as my clients, all the previous clients who hated the company because of bad experiences in the past. My boss thought I was mad but agreed.

I then went through the records and targeted a few specific clients.

One of these clients had been difficult to work with, had experienced numerous problems with the company and had vowed to never do business with them again. However they had to keep in contact as they were running my employers software on their systems. From that piece of inside knowledge I discovered that they were running old, outdated workstations that were much slower and less productive than the current models.

I devised my strategy and began moving into rapport mode.

I already had an excellent rapport with the manufacturer of the workstations as I had dealt extensively with them in my previous job. I rang their sales manager and convinced him that if he would be willing to loan this unhappy client a new workstation for one month then I was confident that they would buy it and that they would also replace their other existing workstations (six in total) within a reasonable period of time. Based on the rapport we had built up over the time we had been dealing with each other he decided to back my judgment and he agreed to the loan.

I then rang the client and introduced myself as the new sales manager. I said that I had been reviewing his files and that I was disgusted with the treatment he had received from the company and could he be kind enough to give me half and hour of his time if I drove to his factory. He was three hours drive from my office so he realized that I was serious about talking to him and he agreed to see me at the appointed time.

When I got there I spent some time establishing rapport and then asked him to tell me all about the problems he had experienced with my new employer. I listened attentively, asked him clarifying questions at appropriate points, and basically allowed him to completely get everything of his chest. When he did he felt a lot better.

I then said that I was astounded that the people he had been dealing with didn't seem to realize that there was a simple solution to all his problems. I explained that I had good rapport with the manufacturer of the workstations and that I was confident that I could arrange a loan workstation, free of charge and obligation, to demonstrate my point.

He was delighted. He insisted that since I was so far from home he should take me to his favorite restaurant for lunch and pick up the tab.

The loan workstation operated in his factory for a month and was so much faster and more productive than his old equipment that neither he nor his staff were willing to return it and they bought it. Over the next 12 months he replaced the remaining five old workstations with new ones and all I had to do was to keep in touch by telephone.

My employer had earned $120,000 in profit, and I had earned an excellent commission and the whole deal had taken me half a day of research, one day out of the office and a few phone calls. All because of the knowledge and skill of building rapport with both the client and the manufacturer.

If your staff all had excellent rapport skills how much extra business could you be writing?

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