Build Rapport
CategoriesSales Consulting

Rapport is the ability to create and hold the other’s positive attention and create a sense of trust

Rapport makes the other person feel comfortable with you. It gets the person thinking & feeling: This guy is like me. He understands me. I can trust him to do what is right for me’. If you are in rapport with your customer, he is comfortable enough to open up and share with you, his deeper concerns, needs and expectations. Without rapport, you are just communicating information. You might as well be a brochure!

When 2 persons are in rapport their body language automatically matches, they adopt the same posture, move in similar ways and use the same style and pace in their speech. Without their knowledge, they ‘mirror’ or ‘match’ each other! Why does this happen? This happens because; the mind & body are part of the same system. If 2 persons are thinking the same way, they will feel the same way and their body language also ends up being similar. Now let me tell you something which is very interesting. Researchers have found that the reverse also is true! i.e. When you match your verbal and non-verbal language, you will start feeling similar emotions as the other: you will achieve rapport! This is a dramatic new insight, very valuable to you: By mirroring or Matching the other, you can achieve rapport!

How can you use this insight: That by Mirroring or Matching, you can Achieve Rapport? By Mirroring or Matching 3 things:

  1. Customer’s Body Language
  2. Customer’s Key Words
  3. Customer’s ‘Preferred Thinking Mode’

A.    Mirroring or Matching Customer’s Body Language

Body language is not just your posture-how you stand/use hands. It is any of the following:

Posture – Position of the body:  Legs & feet / Arms, hands & fingers / Weight distribution
– How the shoulders are held: Up? Drooping?
– Inclination of the head: Straight? Tilted?
Expression – Direction of the look / Movement of the gaze
Breathing – Rate of breathing: Fast? Slow?
– Position of the breathing: Shallow- from the chest? Deep- from the stomach?
Movement – Pace: fast? Steady? Slow? Still?
Voice – Pace: Fast? Slow? Measured?
– Pitch: High? Low?

B.     Mirroring or Matching Customer’s Key Words

The next time you are with a customer, note some words/phrases the customer repeatedly uses. Customers attach special meaning to these key words/phrases. When you reply to them, use the same words/phrases they used. (Don’t try to change her word/ phrase. Use it exactly the same!) You will make them feel you deeply understand them! You will cut through resistance!

C.     Mirroring or Matching Customer’s ‘Preferred Thinking Mode’

Richard Bandler & John Grinder, two remarkable people, have done some path-breaking work by observing people. One of their key findings is of great relevance to persuaders is this: Most individuals have one preferred mode—Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic (Touch/Feel) in which one prefers to think and communicate. This preferred mode/style is what one finds easier to understand and to respond in. So, to achieve rapport, you should communicate with one in one’s own style. Sell to customers the way they want to buy, not how you want to sell to them!

  • A Visual makes pictures in his mind. Represents ideas, & imagination as mental images
  • An Auditory thinks in sounds, voices. One’s voice, pitch, pace & modulation matter to them
  • A Kinesthetic gets information from touch, taste or smell; represents thoughts as feelings

So, the question arises: How do you find a person’s Preferred Thinking Mode and to strike rapport?

(1)    Visuals:

Words they use often Other clues To Persuade them
Speaking Speed: Fast Use Visual words/ phrases to paint a picture. For example:
The future is looking brighter; I am looking forward to see you
Telephone  conversations: Short
Remembering names: Poor Describe processes using flow diagrams, charts, presentations
Remembering faces: Very good Show brochures; pictures (of your products, plant, machinery, etc)
Spellings: Very good Show samples of your products
Like to: Keep their workspace clean & organized Explain by writing on paper; painting pictures in the air
Send proposals in writing, Present in slides
E-mail regularly

(2)    Auditory:

Words they use often Other clues To Persuade them
Speaking Speed: Rhythmic & deliberate Use Auditory words/ phrases while explaining. For example:
How does this sound? We are in tune with each other; Does this ring a bell?
Telephone conversations: Love!
Remembering names: Poor Explain product brochure,  proposal, aloud
Remembering faces: Not good Discuss things with them in a detailed manner.  If required, help them think through
Like to: Think as they speak, Hear self! & others talk & Listen to music
Get confirmations on phone

 (3)    Kinesthetic

Words they use often Other clues To Persuade them
Speaking Speed: Slow, frequent pauses. You wonder if he’s disconnected the line! Use Kinesthetic words/ phrases while explaining. For example:
The sweet smell of success; Get in touch with reality; I’ve got a grasp of what you mean
Remembering names: Poor
Like to: Touch people & things (e.g. pens, clips etc. on desk, brochures, reports, samples etc) Give sample/ product in his hand so that he can feel it
Give Brochures/catalogs in his hand so that he can feel it
Describe the experience of using the product
Get them to do something: e.g. to write on the handout you gave
Take them to the place where the action is e.g. visit a customer where you’ve succeeded

 To Mirror / Match, we need to be Observant. We must talk less, get the Customer to talk and listen. Listening sounds simple, is simple, but many of us don’t! It is time we learnt to Listen Actively

Active Listening: The Key to Persuasion

For a moment, think of the human being called Customer. His (or her) spouse doesn’t listen to him. His children don’t listen any more. The last thing he is looking forward to is his Service Provider not listening to him!

Listening achieves two things first, People feel good when they are truly heard, it Builds Rapport, Second, It helps to truly understand customer needs

If it is so important, why is Listening in short supply? Because of 2 reasons:

  1. Many have a mistaken impression that Listening means Agreeing to what is being said. Whereas, when you listen, you are just considering what the other person is saying.
  2. We think 10-12 times faster than we talk. When you are expected to listen, your mind is on overdrive: making assumptions, reaching conclusions, carrying impressions, making judgements: all in preparation for what to say next! Listening is not waiting for your turn to speak; or, nodding while processing your own thoughts!

So, what is Listening? Listening is Active Listening:

  • Being mentally, physically & emotionally ‘present’ to the speaker
  • Understanding the contents without judgment, and
  • Understanding the emotions expressed by the speaker

Listening is a choice, an action, a gift to the other. It shows your customer: I care for you!

How to Listen Actively

  • Don’t judge the speaker
  • Talk to make the other feel understood, encouraging her to speak more openly
  • Paraphrase, Paraphrase, Paraphrase

Tips to what you will say so others feel understood!

  1. Paraphrase – a short summary of the essence of what the customer has just said
  2. Use Customer’s Key Words/ Key phrases
  3. Use Customer’s ‘Marked out’ words – most people slow down the pace of their speech when they use words which are special to them. They often pause right before and after the word: these are ‘Marked Out’ words

This is concludes Part-2 of our 4-Part Series on Powerfully Persuading Customers. The other parts are  1-Persuasion3-Effective Questioning  and 4-Handle objections and Close