Rapport building in sales

You are working on 2 deals parallelly for months, both the prospects are the right fit. But after working for months and giving equal effort to both, only one of the prospect signs the deal with you whereas 2nd prospect decides to go with a competitor solution.

What really has happened? What has made the deal work with one prospect whereas another one who matched the same as first didn’t work?

I am sure, there are many reasons we can analyze but one fundamental reason for any sale to happen is how good you had build rapport with the buyer.

If we ask the question of what really drives the buyer’s decision, Studies have shown that 90% of every sale is due to likability.

The fundamentals of any human relationship depend on likability. What this means is,

  • People talk to people they like
  • People share information whom they like
  • People buy from people they like
  • People are loyal to people they like
  • People refer or introduce people they like

So as we can see, if there is one fundamental principle that can increase the chance of success in sales or building a better relationship is the ability to build rapport so that you get instant trust and likability.

What does rapport mean?

The dictionary meaning of rapport is

“A close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” she was able to establish a good rapport with the children”

As we can see, it is about understanding the other person feelings or ideas and communicate well. In any sales, this is the foremost requirement.

To also understand that each buyer is unique, developing the ability to connect to “The buyer’s” feelings and ideas they have before we talk about solutions, products, etc.

NLP – Processing information using VAK Modalities

To become good at rapport building skills first and foremost is to understand that selling & buying is a human thing. Your buyer is not Robot (at least not yet!!).

You are talking a human being and as human beings, we inherently want to connect. But most professionals don’t know or lack the skills about how to connect deeply with the buyers.

As per NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), not all buyers are the same and people processing information in predominantly 3 different ways.

NLP -People process information using Visual-Audio-Kinesthetic

VISUAL – 60% of the population. Speak rapidly and like to process information using visuals, pictures and

AUDITORY – 25% of the population. Speaks at moderate speed. Usually wants to process information using sounds, can easily talk over phones.

KINESTHETIC – 10% of the population. Speak very slowly. Wants to feel and touch. Always

3 Ways of Processing Information (source: https://inlpcenter.org/nlp-submodalities-courtney/)

What this means is, if your buyer is kinesthetic and you are visual-oriented, then it is very unlikely that you both can build rapport, unless you adapt to the way the kinesthetic way.

There are tools available in NLP which help to identify different types of buyers and connect to them at an unconscious level so that rapport exists.

5 ways to build instant trust & likability

Mastering NLP can take effort, but that doesn’t mean you cannot work with other means.

To do this, here are the 5 ways you can establish rapport with most buyers.

Learn to be yourself: Sales cycles are long and can test emotions. So it is easy to enact some new way. Instead, the best way to go to any sales is to learn to be yourself. Any buyer will appreciate genuineness and being genuine always help.

Authenticity: Go with the intent to help. As humans, we like to feel safe and secured. So every buyer is cautious to invite salesperson. To overcome is feel of insecurity in buyers, go with the intent of helping buyers instead of selling your product or soln. Buyers genuinely appreciate those who come across with intent of helping

Express similarity: One of the instant ways to be liked is to find some similarities. It can be in the form of companies worked, or coming from the same geography, culture or whatever. If you can connect something similar to buyers, buyers tend to like more.

Small talk- conversation: Learn to start a small conversation outside of the business in the first few minutes. Even with some of the top CEO’s, there is no harm to talk about their passion or interest before entering actual topics. When you really talk about what your buyer passionate about, you are showing respect as well as your interest in him.

Get in to flow with buyers: Finally, rapport building is all about, knowing the buyer very well and how he processes information and aligning to his way by giving minute details to some of the following gestures like,

  • Their body language of holding themselves
  • Their moving gestures of how they move their head, eyes, neck, shoulders
  • Their voice tone- quick speaking or slow speaks
  • Eye contact


In today’s world where buyers are flooded with too many choices, what buyers are expecting from salespeople is not one more person who just wants to sell his solution, but a person who can solve his problem. For this to happen, building trust and being liked is critical.

And in sales, rapport building is not to be seen as a one-time event. Rapport with your buyer has to exist throughout the sales cycle and also even after the sales. At any time if rapport breaks, then it is likely that sales won’t happen or we need to re-establish rapport again.

So, learning about rapport building skills is a sure way to succeed and win more and more sales. And bonus advantage of rapport building is, it is a life skill, which means it not only helps you in winning more sales, but it helps all forms of human relations.

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