by Guest Contributor – Barry Siskind
Think back to the people you feel comfortable with. It could be your spouse, other members of your family, colleagues, business associates, customers, and even the mail carrier. What is it about these people that make you feel comfortable? Where does this comfort come from?
It may have been a common experience you had with a particular person—a movie you both appreciated, mutual friends and acquaintances, or a similar outlook on life. If you have the same experience with the people you do business with, the results can be the same. The people we like to do business with are people we like, respect, and trust – people we feel comfortable with. But where does this comfort come from?
In the 1960s, psychologist Albert Mehrabrian conducted a groundbreaking experiment. He found that people judge other people based on three observable clues: words, the para-verbal, and the nonverbal.
Think about someone you met for the first time. You may have thought to your self, “What an interesting person. I really liked the way he or she answered that question. That is exactly what I would have said.” Or you may have thought, “This person is a real jerk. I never would have said that.” Either reaction would have been based on what the person said—the words—but words are only one part of the equation.
Para-verbal is not what you say but how you say it. It is the tone, pace, tempo, speed, or volume of your voice. We all listen to people and create impressions of them based on how they use their voices. This is the second part of the equation. But there is one more element.
Yes, we do judge a book by its cover. We are all guilty of judging people by how they present themselves. We might say, “There is a successful person—she has that look of confidence in her eyes” or “He’s a loser—look at the way he is dressed.”
What do para-verbal and nonverbal clues have to do with face to face marketing – everything? Mehrabrian discovered that the relative importance of each in the equation is as follows:
- Words: 7 percent
- Para-verbal: 38 percent
- Nonverbal: 55 percent
These numbers tell us that 93 percent of a person’s impressions of another is not directly related to what they say but how they say it; an important lesson for anyone in business. Customers do not just look for the best price; they also need a comfort level with the people they plan to do business with and they can only achieve this goal through a face-to-face marketing experience. Rapport will develop faster and last longer if you show your customer how much their business means to you rather than tell them. Build rapport with actions rather than words.
While many of the differences may be cultural, they all give strong clues on how you should proceed. By reading the clues properly, you are taking the first important step toward building rapport.
While e-commerce is growing by leaps and bounds, there are still many situations where customers want to know the people they are going to do business with. The best tool in your marketing arsenal is face-to-face opportunities like special events and trade shows. When you add well honed rapport building skills to your approach, you can expect a definite increase in your results.