Sales: How to build rapport

When you study the art of sales, you frequently come across this term – rapport. Sometimes, its definition can get confusing, and that is when our human brain loses a little motivation. Yet building rapport is crucial to your success in sales. So, the best way to understand how to build or establish rapport with a potential customer is to understand what it is that you are trying to establish. 

Google can surely give you hundreds of variable definitions for the word “rapport” in sales. I will explain it to you in my own words, from my own experience in sales. You and your potential customer are two unacquainted human beings brought together by the nature of business. You wish to sell a product or a service – it is your undeniable main goal. Your potential customer could be the one who buys your product or service, but there is no trust in your relationship yet. Plus, your customer is usually well aware of your main goal, and alert about your attempts to pursue it which could lead you to be less honest and more biased. Rapport is born when you and your customer truly connect and harmonize your positions in that particular set of circumstances.

Active listening is key for building rapport (Image by James Oladujoye from Pixabay)

Rapport cannot exist without befriending in the same way that friendship cannot exist without trust. And how do you befriend someone? You do it by removing everything fake and interacting wholeheartedly. Many people in sales do not believe that this type of friendly relationship with clients is business-appropriate, let alone that it can exist. Little do they know that it can serve as a foundation for fruitful customer relationships that can last many years. 

So, without further ado, how does one build rapport?

1. Elevate your mindset

It is easy to get knocked off the progressive path in a work environment that encourages sales, sales, and even more sales. That aggressive mindset of a sales Spartan about to face off an unequal clientele army of Persians can work in the short term. At that point, if you have the guts for it, you fiercely funnel through your pool of customers to end up with a small percentage who you manage to coerce into conversion. The quality of such sales relationships is normally poor, as you get short-living, unmotivated customers. They buy once or twice, but their retention may be low as they feel victimized. They have never been befriended. 

To build rapport – something that ensures your customer relationships last – you need to see past that type of work environment. You need to even see past what is commonly considered the standards of sales. We live in a new age, where the old principles are dying out despite them being plastered all over the internet. People’s trust is even harder to acquire today. When you start your day, take a moment for self-care first. Lift your mindset to set the tone for the day. Your day’s mission is to make as many customer friends as possible. Fun, no? 

2. Befriending done right

So, how do you make a customer friend while staying in sync with your core mission of selling your product or service? It all comes down to how you make friends outside of a business environment. The main difference here is that you should not forget the circumstances under which you are presented with the opportunity to make a friend. You represent a company. Your potential customer is someone who may be able to benefit from your product or service that is available for sale. 

Set an appealing conversational tone

That is a human on the other end of the phone line (or in front of you). This person can feel (consciously or subconsciously) every energy within your interaction. It may sound silly but the first piece of advice is: talk like yourself! Do not try to imitate a voice or different tone to how you are naturally, just because you are on a sales call. Be you. Your authenticity is bound to appeal to the customer more than formality. 

Eye and body language 

If you are not on a sales call where your tone plays the key role, there are these two additional communication channels carrying your character’s energy. Your eyes mirror your soul and never lie. Thus, if you are faking your attempt at friendship for the sole purpose of closing a sale, your eyes may betray you to even the most simple of people. The same holds for your body language. What is on your mind sets the sequences for the rest of your bodily actions. One does not have to be a body language expert to sense inauthentic motives. 

Eyes mirror your soul (Image by StockSnap from Pixabay)
Listen actively and mirror

Listening does not mean hearing. You hear with your ears. You listen with your mind. It is hard to listen when your attention is not focused on it, so prioritize your focus. It should be all about what your potential customer says, how and why he says it. To discover more about particular areas, mirror your customer. Mirroring is repeating the last 3-5 words the customer just said, but in a question format. This makes the customer expand on that area. It also shows you are listening to the words being said.

Ask discovery questions

To get a full grasp on the customer’s circumstances, your questions should be posed in such a way that makes the customer provide an expanded response. This means no questions that can be answered with a single word, like a “yes” or a “no.” These are useless. You will be wasting your time. Such questions also demonstrate to the customer how interested you are in their particular life situation before you start selling anything.

EMPATHIZE with the customer’s emotions

Business is about solving problems or healing pains. Most likely, by now you have disclosed those problems or pains by interacting with your customer. This is the time to outline your understanding of them and share their burden. Labeling emotions is a great way to do that. Call out exactly what you have heard the customer is feeling. This way, you will additionally verify that you have been immersed in listening to your customer’s perspective of life. 

3. Common ground and experiences

As a smooth transition from empathy, it helps to finalize the establishment of rapport by connecting through commonalities. This is your chance to humanly link with your customer as you bring up what you have in common. As human beings, we tend to open up more to those who experience the same things like us. After all, they live through the same difficulties, therefore, we are the same. Under no circumstances should you falsify commonalities, however, as this may destroy what you have spent time building. Remember, a customer will usually be able to sense lies. 

If done successfully, your customer has now been befriended and warmed up for the next steps in the sales process. You have attained that much-needed trust and laid the groundwork for a possible long-term customer relationship. Congratulations on getting attention. It is as rare as a hen’s teeth. Use it wisely! 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: