Any good salesperson will tell you that building rapport with a potential customer is fundamental to closing more deals with less effort. Rapport helps people feel like they are in sync with one another, a powerful first step in building the trust and confidence required for a successful sale.
Rapport is defined as a close and harmonious relationship in which the people concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well. In one-to-one sales situations, techniques such as discussing common interests, maintaining eye contact, and mirroring all can be used to build rapport. But how can you leverage these rapport-building methods when your sale is made mostly, or entirely, online?
Creating rapport with potential customers through your website is certainly more challenging than doing it face to face, or even on the phone. But it is possible. Here are eight ways you can translate traditional rapport-building methods to the online environment.
In a traditional sales environment, the salesperson can build a sense of camaraderie and trust with the buyer by finding things they have in common - shared interests, dislikes, challenges, that sort of thing. To build commonality with your online buyers, consider these tactics:
Mirroring is a way of getting into a rhythm with a person on as many levels as possible. Salespeople use emotional mirroring by empathizing with a buyer's emotional state, being good listeners, and repeating back to the buyer key words and phrases that he or she uses. Other types of mirroring include tone and tempo mirroring (matching the tone, tempo, and inflection of a person's voice) and posture mirroring (matching the general "energy level" of the buyer). To translate these techniques to your website, you need to be able to anticipate the emotions, voice, and energy of your visitors before they even arrive at your site, and then give them an experience that feels like mirroring.
Did you know that giving gifts or doing things without expecting anything in return can trigger feelings of obligation? This is not the same as giving a customer a free demo of a product, because any customer using a demo would surely understand that there is a hope and expectation that they might later buy. But there are plenty of other ways you can leverage the power of reciprocity on your website.
Better Rapport = Quicker Sales
Whether your website is directed to consumers or other businesses, building rapport with your visitors is essential to increasing conversions. Every element of your site, from its design and copy to photos and fonts, will either help or hinder your effort to build rapport. And remember - rapport is subtle. Visitors may not be aware that they have built a rapport with you, but they will definitely know if they didn't.
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Tim Ash is CEO of SiteTuners.com, a landing page optimization firm that offers conversion consulting, full-service guaranteed-improvement tests, and software tools to improve conversion rates. SiteTuners' AttentionWizard.com visual attention prediction tool can be used on a landing page screenshot or mock-up to quickly identify major conversion issues. He has worked with Google, Facebook, American Express, CBS, Sony Music, Universal Studios, Verizon Wireless, Texas Instruments, and Coach.
Tim is a highly-regarded presenter at SES, eMetrics, PPC Summit, Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Affiliate Conference, and LeadsCon. He is the chairperson of ConversionConference.com, the first conference focused on improving online conversions. A columnist for several publications including ClickZ, he's host of the weekly Landing Page Optimization show and podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm. His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
He received his B.S. and M.S. during his Ph.D. studies at UC San Diego. Tim is the author of the bestselling book, "Landing Page Optimization."
Connect with Tim on Google+.
March 19, 2014