Building Rapport – Sales Training Blog


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Building and being in rapport is the ability to enter someone else’s model of the world and let them know that we truly understand that model. To be able to establish rapport is one of the most important skills a salesperson can have. It is the ability to form a powerful common human bond and develop long-term relationships with customers. It is a highly individualised skill; different people will establish rapport with their customers in different ways. To some extent connecting is a matter of “chemistry” and chemistry is not always found between people. If a salesperson is aware of the importance of building a bond, however, and makes an effort to do so, he or she will increase the likelihood of establishing rapport. Sincerity is the cornerstone of the salesperson’s establishing a bond with the customer

“When people are like each other they tend to like each other”

Take any relationship between two people and you will find the first thing that created their bond was something they had in common. How do we create rapport? We do this by creating or discovering things that we have in common. This is called “mirroring”.

The Secret of Rapport – PACING
Pacing means meeting the other person where he or she is, reflecting what he or she know and assumes to be true and matching some part of their ongoing experience. We can pace a person’s mood, body language and speech patterns (including speech, tonality, volume, and the words phrases and images the other person uses). You can pace their beliefs and opinions. You can pace their breathing patterns

Pacing is a way of building trust and credibility

The degree of rapport that you establish with a customer depends on your ability to MIRROR that person. Mirroring means getting into rhythm with the person on as many levels as possible. When you are mirroring that person in such a way that you are talking the way that he or she talks, sitting the way that he or she sits, moving in the general patterns that he or she is moving, breathing in the same general rhythms, and appearing to share the same values, you are establishing the basis of rapport.

Emotional Mirroring

If a person is emotionally down and you approach them with an enthusiastic, “back slapping”, hail and hearty manner then rapport will not be established. The reverse is also the case, if the person is feeling on top of the world and you are obviously having a bad day, then the person will not want to be dragged down to your level of emotion. Meet the person at the emotion they are displaying. If it’s frustration or anger you experience with them not at them.

Posture mirroring

Posture mirroring can be thought of as body language mirroring. Much of posture mirroring is done from the chin up. Posture mirroring is certainly not “monkey see, monkey do.” This would look ridiculous and probably insult the other person. The technique called “cross over posture mirroring” is very effective at developing rapport with people.

If your customer crosses his arms then you cross your legs. If they rest their head in their hands, then you touch your chin. If your customer’s hands are in his pockets then you should put your hands in your pockets or fold your hands in your lap. Obviously matching the other person’s body language should not be overdone. But done subtly, it can help to build rapport with a customer.

Tone and Tempo Mirroring

The tone and tempo of your voice are just another way that you can establish rapport. Tone and tempo is how you speak, not what you say but the way you say it. 38% of the impact of a message is how we say the words!! It’s the speed, loudness, inflection and rhythm. Each of us tends to speak at a pace that we enjoy listening. The rate of speed varies among individuals and among cultures.

Values and beliefs mirroring

Values and beliefs mirroring means that you do not step on the other person’s values and beliefs. You should avoid using the word BUT because it negates everything you said before it. e.g…” You have a lot of great books in your bookcase, but I don’t see any best sellers?” “It really is a lovely meal, but I’m not all that hungry”. The best way to establish rapport is to not take exception or be argumentative. “However” – is a better bridge to move you from one supposition to another.

Shared interest

Shared interest can be an extremely strong rapport builder. You should demonstrate to a customer, for example, that you fully understand their problem and together you will work on finding a solution. If there is something that you can relate to that you also have an interest in e.g. children, football team, weather, etc. Then you can use this shared interest to build rapport. Be careful not to sound insincere and calculating!!

Studies have also shown that one of the skills that highly successful people in business have is the ability to build a strong rapport base before moving into influence strategies. This is a very valuable skill in selling and the foundation of all long-term business relationships.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colly Graham
First working for a Fortune 500 company in fast moving consumer goods, my career progressed from selling capital equipment, financial services to internet services, with a wide management experience in both telephone and field sales, training and development of sales people. My forty years of practical experience of selling and the ability to empathize with sales people and establish immediate rapport and credibility as a trainer, NLP Master Practitioner I have trained and consulted with over 1,000 companies since the formation of salesxcellence


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