You’ve probably heard it said that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” and “People need to know, like and trust you before they’ll do business with you.” The truth is: until people know you care, most view you simply as a salesperson trying to make a sale. With that in mind, how do you build trust and rapport rapidly and let people know you have their best interest in mind so you can move toward the sale?

1. Treat everyone you meet as if they are a close friend or family member.

By treating the prospect as a close friend or family member, you will ensure that you have their best interest in mind. People have a sixth sense, and they know when you are more interested in making a sale than you are in helping them out. Thus, you need to focus on the other person and what is best for him, as opposed to focusing on you, your company, your product or the sale.

2. Work on the relationship and the connection before you focus on the sale.

Most salespeople are so focused on the sales process, the questions they need to ask and the points they need to make that they forget to focus on the prospect and make a personal connection before proceeding with the sale. See each prospect as an individual, each with a unique life experience with distinct needs and desires. Build some solid rapport before moving into the sales portion of the call.

3. Make a friend.

Your first objective is to be likeable, agreeable, get along and make a friend. Your focus is not on showing the prospect how much you know or how little he knows, or in getting in a debate over what she thinks she needs versus what you think she needs. Before you can educate the prospect and have her listen, or lead the prospect and have him follow, you must have a good connection and rapport.

4. Focus completely on the person in front of you.

Be present with your prospect, and make sure you are paying close attention, asking good, thoughtful, relevant questions and listening well. Do not focus on the phone in your pocket, the siren on the fire engine driving by or the person who just walked in the door. Give the person you’re talking to your undivided attention.

5. Treat each person as the most interesting person in the world.

If you ask people who they are most interested in, the majority will say themselves if they answer honestly. So treat them as if they’re incredibly interesting. Ooze caring, empathy and understanding while keeping in mind that these feelings must be genuine.

6. Have friendly, relaxed conversations.

Converse with each prospect as you would with a close friend. For the most part, people are mirrors and will return what you send out. If you are relaxed, open, conversational and show you care, your prospects will tend to mirror that.

7. Make sure everything about you sends the right message.

Make sure you are perceived as a consummate professional. Speak professionally and intelligently. In other words, use proper grammar and be knowledgeable about your industry. Dress the part and be well groomed, have a good handshake, make good eye contact and conduct yourself professionally at all times.

These seven tips will enable you to build trust and rapport rapidly and make a good first impression. Once you’ve made a good first impression, be sure to have strong follow-up by doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. After the initial meeting, your next objective is to make a good second, third, fourth impression, etc.

For more sales & marketing tips, see:

The 5 success disciplines

Never run out of leads

The true definition of “selling”