Rapport Building – Step 5: Match their speed and volume of speech

From the old Western movies of my childhood the phrase “fast-talkin’ city slicker” comes to mind when teaching this topic. It was a term used to describe the outsider, someone not to be trusted. And, building trust is critical to the forward progression of every sales situation.

Since people tend to feel comfortable buying from someone who is like them, it’s important that you pay attention to the little nuances of communication that help them feel (consciously or subconsciously) comfortable with you. How much attention you need to give this nuance will depend upon the demographic of your potential clients and the territory you work within.

If you primarily sell tires to locals (people who live within 90 miles of your place of business), this nuance probably won’t be much of an issue for you. However, if you sell computer equipment over the telephone to anyone in the country, you do need to give this matter added attention.

As an example, let’s say you’re from New York City and your potential client was born, raised and still lives in Dallas, Texas. Initially, the only thing you have in common is the type of product you sell. If you’ve been reading this series of articles on Rapport Building, you will have already smiled (and yes, a smile can be “heard” over the telephone) and used the person’s name. Now, it’s time to pay attention to their rate of speech. There tends to be a difference in the rate of speech between people from those two areas. New Yorkers are often perceived to speak fast when heard by the ears of someone from Texas and Texans can be perceived to speak slowly when heard by the ears of a New Yorker. So, your goal then becomes one of adjusting your rate of speech to a comfortable level for the potential client.

You do this by paying attention to the pacing of their words and doing your best to match that rate. Be careful not to also try to match their accent. That could be taken as being condescending and defeat the purpose of making the adjustment.

The same goes for the volume of your speech. Some people just talk loudly. It’s their style. If you’re trying to get them involved with your product and your style of speech is rather quiet, you may come across as timid, fearful or as not having confidence. And having the appearance of a lack of confidence is a real sales killer. I’m not recommending that you shout or even match their volume completely, but you will need to speak up in order to get their full attention.

Conversely, if your potential client comes across as meek and mild-mannered in their speech, you will want to avoid speaking too loudly. That could be abrasive to them and again…a potential sales killer.

During the next day or so, pay attention to the conversations you hear around you. Listen for discord between the parties when it comes to speed and volume of speech and watch how they each react to it. You’ll quickly get the idea of the impact of this nuance on your level of success in selling.

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

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