The Three Principles of Rapport

Building Rapport

Building Rapport

In the world of selling, there are three principles of rapport. Working with them will increase the probability that your potential clients will buy from you:

  1. Buyers like salespeople who are like them.

Have you noticed how friends adopt each other’s behaviors? Friends tend to talk to each other at a similar speed and with a similar volume. Friends tend to adopt similar behaviors such as in their postures, facial expressions, and gestures. This same exchange of behaviors occurs when you establish rapport with buyers. You and your buyers will gradually begin to adopt similar behaviors. As your behavior becomes more like theirs, you make it easier for your buyers to like you.

If you doubt this, think about the last time you were with someone who used drastically different postures and gestures than you. At first, you would have been uncomfortable—trying to recognize what those postures and gestures meant. In effect, you were trying to translate that person’s body language into something to which you could relate. Once the understanding was there, you probably felt more comfortable. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not the other person was likable. It was more along the lines of whether or not you understood him.

Jon Berghoff has a wonderful quote in Susan Cain’s bestselling book Quiet Power: “People don’t buy from me because they understand what I’m selling. They buy because they feel understood.” That’s the goal of establishing rapport—to help your potential clients feel that you understand them.When done properly, that understanding will lead to a level of like and trust.

What does being likable have to do with closing more sales? The significance is explained in the next two principles:

     2. Buyers tend to trust likable salespeople.

This is human nature and it’s true most of the time. It’s especially noticeable with people you hardly know. Buyers who like you will trust what you say about your product to a greater degree than buyers who don’t like you. And working against this reality of human behavior will adversely affect your persuasiveness with your buyers. You become likable when you do and say things that put others at ease.

     3. Buyers like to buy from likable salespeople.

Have you ever had a sales rep you did not like try to sell you something? Perhaps you didn’t like this salesperson’s personality or how they spoke. Did you want to do business with this salesperson? Probably not. Unless driven by an immediate necessity for the product, most buyers do not want to do business with salespeople they don’t care for.

Please note that rapport is a penalty situation rather than a reward situation. What that means is just because buyers like you doesn’t automatically mean they’ll reward you with a purchase. However, if they do not like you, they will probably not do business with you. The penalty for lack of rapport is losing the sale early in the sales appointment.

As an example, a salesperson can work for an industry-leading, reputable company, but if buyers perceive that salesperson as arrogant and condescending, buyers will be less willing to make a purchase. Their decision is not because of the value or pricing of that leading company’s products and services, but because the salesperson was simply not seen as being likable.

That is the reality of persuasion. You must establish and maintain rapport during your entire sales appointment.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. and Tigran LLC. This article is excerpted from our book When Buyers Say No.

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