In a world where clients can slip off your hands if caution isn’t practiced while creating a harmonious relationship, building rapport should suffice as a business’s top priority.
Think about your relationships in your personal life, without mutual understanding and a level of trust would that connection exist or sustain? Or even your gym trainer, therapist or medical practitioner, would you risk engaging with them if you don’t seem to hit it off with them?
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C organisation, both customers and businesses prefer dealing with someone that they share a positive relationship with. While physically a meet-up for coffee or an informal discussion will allow for a bond to be shaped, doing so virtually might seem like a task. Due to the risks of interacting online and a fear of exposed identity, building rapport with strangers sounds immensely intimidating.
Especially for virtual assistants that deal with clients on an everyday basis, creating an online rapport with clients is like a game of chess, one wrong move and the deal can wash down the drain. Being one of the biggest challenges that sellers face with 88% finding it difficult to flourish relationships virtually.
Following are some tips that will help you build a plausible rapport with your clients:
Make Video The Norm
Might seem like the simplest, but definitely is the easiest way to succeed in virtual bonding. Yes, sometimes you’re just not in the mood or don’t look the best, but you’ll be surprised to know the benefits it follows with, especially if you’re selling virtually.
Meetings can be more personalised and authentic, one of the 4 principles of rapport that allow for a deeper connection!
Sam Hamann, an inbound growth specialist stated “It's helpful to have your video on because it shows prospects that you're a real human being with a smile. This allows for a better relationship as people tend to trust you more if they can see you."
A greater level of trust is also built with 82% respondents of a survey by Zoom accepting that having the video on allows for one to move ahead on the trust meter. The same study also found that the video being on also led to greater engagement through non verbal communication cues by 91% users.
Market Your Persona Before The Service
Yes, showing your face on the video call proved you’re a human, but showing them you’re someone you have external interests, passions or an interest in learning about theirs or their wellbeing would save you the tag from being a boring one. Remember that people never make connections with brands or companies but with other people, when similar interests are met- a meaningful, indestructible rapport is birthed.
Just knowing where your prospect went to college or their achievements on LinkedIn isn’t solely enough, exploring their interests, their values and the groups they’re involved in would help you form a personal connection and show your client that you did your research adequately, guaranteeing you a scored deal (Read more to find out the benefits of assessing and researching customer needs)
Communicate- But The Right Amount
Lack of physical presence can sometimes be a struggle when it comes to virtual relationships, but don’t let that come in your way of communicating adequately with your clients. Scheduling frequent catch-ups and bi-weekly/weekly meetings can help ensure your client is up to date with your progress, but mostly even create space for digital water-cooler conversations that are just ideal for building great rapport.
If you're a manager or a business owner and don't have a virtual water-cooler channel, then check out why you need one. Even frequent updates and informal messages wishing them luck for their conference that they talked about will you are readily available and build upon further trust. Don’t cross the line here though and bombard them with a million messages throughout the day, because that might cause the plan to backfire!
Volunteer With Other Work
While this may sound like an additional burden and a question of “what’s there for me to gain in this” might ponder your head. Asking for volunteering to help out with more tasks if you have the time to do so can be a great way to build rapport.
If your client has been complaining that they’ve had an extremely busy weekend and couldn’t work on a certain task - make a sincere offer to assist them. This will show you’re generous, attentive and work wonders to build a positive relationship, and you might not know they’d also agree to pay you for it! This would also prove that you’re a good listener- one of the top traits a VA must possess.
Sometimes long documents of updates or work progress or even about your company’s services can be boring- send them a personalised video of how you can help them out instead. Visual elements will allow you to engage better with your prospects and assist in building a connection. Even during a remote meeting, ditch explaining through words on how you’d help the client and get creative - you could create a slide deck and walk through the process or even share your screen and show them how you work!
Avoid being boring with your emails, personalise them depending on each client, engage in a conversation and rest assured they’ll have a good impression of you and your company. That being said, keep it to the point, crisp and useful too and don’t get inquisitive on their personal lives.
Yes, virtual connections can be hard but they’re most certainly not impossible. Make it a point to focus on building a relationship with your client and you’ll see positive results for your business as well as you personally. A friend, a connection that might help you out in the future or even simply shared knowledge that you gain during the process is worth the efforts in building rapport.
Lastly, keep the 4R’s in mind: Be Relevant, Be Real, Be Relatable and Be Reliable and you’re good to go.