Using interaction and rapport to get ahead

on 15th May 2018

Ashley Latter shares the most important communication skills that will help you create life-long relationships which will help you get ahead in business

I am going to go through the most important skill that you can possess. In fact, if you have this skill in your make up, you will be welcome anywhere in the world. The key skill here is the ability to build rapport with people. If you can build rapport with your clients, colleagues and suppliers, then people are more likely to listen to you, take on board your suggestions and, most importantly, trust you. Without rapport, then the rest of the sales process will just not happen. I have learned over thousands of appointments and interactions in my life that people always buy people first, before anything else. Have you ever tried to buy anything off anyone you don’t like or trust? It’s not easy.

All our successes in life, and you will have your own definition of success, are created by interaction with other people. We cannot persuade people if you have little or no rapport with them.

My definition of rapport building is when you have a mutual understanding and trust. You are on the same wavelength, in-sync with the person you are speaking to. Let me share with you a story from one of my clients who recently took one of my programmes. There are so many lessons to be taken from this story.

Example case

One of my clients is a dentist called Simon, who has a practice in the south of England. He takes the importance of rapport building to another new level. He received an enquiry from a potential patient one evening, who was asking about implant treatment. Simon responded back to the patient more or less straightaway.

When we have discussed this on my courses, some of my delegates have stated that it sounded like a state of desperation, but I thought in this day and age the fact that Simon responded immediately, was pretty impressive. The patient responded back the next day and after several emails, an appointment was made for the following week. The night before his new appointment, Simon did his research about the patient by going on line and he soon discovered his patient was a professional speaker and had many videos on You Tube, which Simon subsequently watched.

The next morning after a morning huddle with the rest of his team, something that Simon and his team did every morning to plan the day, Simon welcomed the patient, where he built instant rapport with him. He asked questions about his job as a speaker and a genuine rapport was built between the two of them.

He complimented the client on the quality of his You Tube and as Simon was just starting out on his own speaking career, speaking at local dental meetings to help grow his referring practice, common ground was discovered. After further questioning to identify the patient’s problems, and after a thorough examination took place, a large treatment plan was agreed between Simon and the patient and a new relationship was formed. Subsequently the same patient has come back for more treatment and he has also recommended other patients to his practice. The natural conclusion was a win-win for both parties.

Lessons learnt

The lessons you can take away from this story are:

1. If you receive a new enquiry, act quickly, speed is important. We live in an age of instant communication and I honestly believe people are becoming more impatient, so act straightaway. If the enquiry comes in by email, but the patient leaves a telephone number, why not call the potential patient and engage in rapport building. You can invite the patient in for an appointment. Nothing beats a good conversation.

2. There is no excuse now not to do your preparation. Years ago, there was only the local library for resources, now there are many such as going on line, do a Google search and try Facebook and LinkedIn. You can learn so much about a new person in seconds, by the push of a button.

3. I am a massive fan of group huddles in the morning before the patients walk through the door. Sometimes, if the receptionist has done a good job at the initial call, then they can share with the rest of the team important information about the new patients who are coming into the practice that day. On our reception programme we show the reception team to complete a new enquiry sheet and these are treated like gold dusts. The reception team has to communicate all the information in a group huddle in the morning.

4. By spending time building genuine rapport, trust was built. Without trust, there is no rapport, without rapport, no transaction can take place. When you build rapport and you find common ground with your patients, amazing things happen after.

I always suggest, if you can, to find two chairs, or maybe construct a consulting room, and to have a conversation with your patient before you put them on the dental chair. It might be a scary experience for a patient to go to the dentist and having a two-way conversation puts the patient at ease and makes them feel important. If you have not got two chairs and your surgery space does not allow it, then perhaps you can put the patient on the dental chair in an upright position and you can bring your chair round facing the patient. It shows that you are genuinely interested and, most importantly, it will put the client at ease.

Over a lifetime, a single patient is worth thousands of pounds to your practice and this relationship needs to be nourished on an on-going basis. I have learnt in my lifetime, never to take my clients for granted. If you have excellent relationships with your clients, then you are more likely to get referrals from them. I usually find that if some of these patients are nice and value what you do, then you are more likely to get people of similar characteristics. Nice people know nice people.

I recently spoke to a client who told me that they now decided to collect their patients from the reception and take them to the surgery and then escort them back to the desk after each appointment. They even got the reception team to ring through to the nurse to inform her what the patient was wearing, so that when she went to collect the patient, the dentist could go straight to the patient and use their name. That really is going the extra mile.

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