How to build Rapport in Sales

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It’s surprising that there are so many sales people these days selling products without first building rapport.

They are missing the first and most important step required when selling a product or service which is costing organisations heavily, with the loss of revenue and decrease in repeat business.

With so many different definitions circulating around the meaning of RAPPORT, I thought it would be good if we went ahead first and uncovered what it truly means.

Rapport is a relationship between two or more parties, especially one of mutual trust, or emotional affinity. Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication. It is commonality of perspective: being “in sync” with, or being “on the same wavelength” as the person with whom you are talking.

To be the best you can be, you need to discover the magic of rapport. The principles and techniques of rapport hold the key to effective communication. It is based on the idea that we like to communicate with people who we perceive to be like us.

This is because people who we think like us as a person will only influence us. It works best when feelings are authentic – that is you genuinely caring about other people and having their interests at heart.

To get the outcome you want, you need to influence others to get the desired effect. This hinges on getting connected with what others want. Seek first to show that you understand and can empathise.

Rapport in sales is EVERYTHING. Without feeling the respect and trust that comes from rapport, the rest of the conversation and relationship will have little impact. We live in a world where we are hit with thousands of ads per day; the last thing people want is to be sold.

In this day and age the average consumer does not have time to shop around. The only reason they won’t buy from you is because they had no rapport, and therefore did not trust you enough to hand over their money or their time.
Let’s go ahead now and do a quick test to see where you are on the rapport scale. Answer each question below truthfully with a simple YES or NO. Try not to dwell on the questions, as your first and instinctive response is probably the most accurate!


  1. Are the majority of people you meet pleased to see you?
  2. Do your social groups say they miss you when you are not around?
  3. Do you find it easy to communicate with people you have just met?
  4. Do people turn to you for help?
  5. Do people find you approachable?
  6. Do people immediately understand what you say and mean?
  7. Do you usually get your own way?
  8. Do people willingly do what you ask of them?
  9. Do you have a wide and varied circle of friends?
  10. Do you have an even wider set of acquaintances?
  11. Would you describe yourself as persuasive?
  12. Do people readily accept your ideas?
  13. Are you able to remove the heat from an argument?
  14. At meetings, are you usually invited to contribute your arguments?
  15. Do you find it easy to sustain eye contact with someone?

If you answered YES to more than half of these questions, you already have a good, instinctive sense of rapport. If you answered NO to more than half of these questions, you may need a greater conscious awareness of the importance and relevance of rapport in building relationships with people.

With so much competition out there these days, consumers evaluate the products and services they consider buying by looking at the three things that matter most to them, in the following level of importance:

  1. The sales person
  2. The Company
  3. The Product

Most of the time it does not matter if your product is not as good as the competition, as long as you can prove to them that your staff and company as a whole are much more professional to deal with. This is why having the right staff with the right attitude is critical.

Gone are the days where you could hard sell someone to buy your products with the advancement of the internet; consumers can now easily do plenty of research prior to purchasing their desired goods or services. As the world has changed around us, we too need to adapt and change to keep up with consumers.

Now days it is more about: Soft Selling. An advanced skill that if used properly can have dramatic effects to sales targets, not just in the short term, but also most importantly in the long term.

Soft selling is the process of having a conversation with a client. It is more about service than it is about selling. If you look at the ancient meaning of the word Sale, it is derived from a Norwegian word called Selyey, which means: To Serve.

Old Paradigm                         

  • More talking
  • Hard sell
  • Always Be Closing
  • Assume Benefits
  • Make a sale
  • Sell, Sell, Sell

New Paradigm

  • More listening
  • Soft sell
  • Opening is important
  • Identify Benefits
  • Build a relationship
  • Service

By focusing on serving the client rather than selling the client, it totally changes how a client will react and project towards you. Remember: In life how you project is how people will perceive you. If you project to someone that you are only interested in talking to him or her because you want to make a sale, they will project to you in that manner. No one likes to be sold—they like to feel that they have bought.


Alex Pirouz

When you’re picking up the phone, or speaking to people face to face, if all you are thinking about is when you’re going to make the next sale, I can guarantee you very little success compared to focusing on serving the client and building rapport.

Always approach your customers with a mindset of ‘what’s in it for them’, and follow that up by finding out how you can be of service to them, so that they feel like they have bought rather than be sold.

Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd –


Published On: 24th Feb 2011

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