4 Tips to Get Buyers to Fall in Love with You this Valentine's Day

February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Candy

Editor's Note: This guest post was contributed by Mike Schultz, President, RAIN Group.

While Valentine’s Day is typically centered around relationships between loved ones, it’s also a good opportunity to evaluate and improve your business relationships as well.

Almost every business relationship begins with building rapport. Whether someone likes you or doesn't like you will determine how your selling process and the buyers' decision process will go.

Building rapport leads to some very important outcomes. People talk to people they like, they share information with people they like, they buy from people they like, they feel loyalty to people they like, and they introduce people they like.

We once polled a large group asking, “What percent of people are trustworthy?” The average response? Thirty percent.

Then, the question was slightly altered, asking a different set of people, "What percent of people that you know are trustworthy?" The average response? Seventy percent.

Simply knowing leads to trust. Trust is crucial when selling. Basic familiarity makes a difference in building trust. Knowing and liking is much more powerful, setting the stage for all selling success that comes after. Focus on these four principles of rapport when getting to know buyers.

1. Empathy

What gives your brain as much pleasure as food and money?

Talking about yourself.

Harvard University neuroscientists, Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell, conducted a series of behavioral experiments that revealed people find talking about themselves rewarding. People can't help sharing details about themselves.

If you can get buyers to talk about themselves, you've made some progress. If you can show them that you’ve listened, they'll be more inclined to like you.

What you’ve established is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. If you want to build a relationship with a buyer, get them to talk about themselves, and demonstrate that you’re listening.

2. Authenticity

While most people like a listener, few people like a faker. Anyone who comes across as insincere might as well open up the other person's brain and press the "dislike” button.

This is why it’s essential for sellers to show authenticity. People like people who are genuine. Research and practice provide a bit to go on when it comes to being authentic.

For instance, research from the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior revealed that when people smile slower, and ease their way into it, it develops the sense of authenticity.

It’s important to avoid being overly friendly. This might seem like an obvious ploy to connect, but the buyer will see right through it and you’ll fall flat.

3. Similarity

People like people who are like them. They like when there are similarities. If you can find common ground, you’re more likely to develop genuine rapport.

Numerous psychological studies have confirmed that people like names better when they're similar to theirs. They prefer brands that share their initials. They prefer that people move the way they move.

What can you do to apply the similarity principle?

Uncover interests and background that you have in common with the buyer and you can not only make, but also deepen that connection. Anyone who’s shared a favorite TV show, favorite author, favorite sport, favorite activity or hobby, or even has children the same age understands what it feels like to have a connection with someone just because of that one similarity.

Another way to appear similar is to mirror buyers' basic behaviors. For instance, if they speak slow, they'd probably prefer others who do as well. If they speak fast, the same is true. They lean forward, you lean forward. However, don’t outright mimic. Interact in ways they prefer to interact, and interact like them. If you can do this successfully, you'll develop a better connection and rapport.

4. Shared Experience

People who are talked at don't feel connected to the speaker. People who are actively involved in the communication process develop a stronger liking for the people who are interacting with them and, at the same time, develop a sense of psychological ownership over whatever they're working on.

If you're selling, create shared experiences and interact with buyers in the business process. For example, define a problem, craft a solution, devise a strategy to present the solution, and work collaboratively to come to the right agreement and terms.

When you do, not only will they like you more, they'll also be much more inclined to take action on whatever it is you want them to do.

It's also true that if you simply spend time with people—lunch, coffee, events, and so on—your affinity for one another will rise.

If you want to build relationships and increase your influence with buyers, interact with them. Create shared experiences.

Rapport is the foundation for relationship building. Few people would argue that sales people, professionals, and leaders who have great relationships tend to have great success. As you're building rapport, think of it less as a mechanical part about how you should lead a meeting, and more as an investment in building a relationship.

To invest in relationships, make sure you attend to the four principles of rapport: empathy, authenticity, similarity, and shared experience.

For more advice on improving win rates and getting the most out of your sales team, subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales blog.