Rapport building in sales

01 Jan 2020

How to build rapport and gain instant trust with buyers

You are working on 2 deals parallel 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 to build a connection 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 liking and rapport you have built.

Have you ever bought anything from someone you don’t like? You won’t buy right. Unless you are forced to buy from the only vendors (like govt..), you are going to another option available!!

The fundamentals of any human relationship including selling, buying depends on likability.

What this means is,

We are magnetically drawn to people who are like us

  • 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 you 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.

You’ve likely heard this already the importance of building rapport in your sales process, but how can you go about this in a genuine way?

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.”

Essentially, rapport is created by the feeling of commonalty. When we feel we have in common, there is a spark.

I am sure you would have experience somewhere when you went to new college, or new job first time and inspite of everyone new to you, you build instant connection with few people quickly. This connection happens initially even without talking too much.

Now rapport gets build with people who are like you unconsciously, but in sales you don’t come across with people who are like you? How do you build rapport with them?

How do you build rapport?

Most people’s rapport is by words!  Words don’t establish rapport. Asking questions or probing is mostly to gather information. It doesn’t build rapport. To ask questions you need rapport.

Even to know simple answers like what college they studied, what place someone is from, what interests they have, not many want to reveal unless there is feeling of commonality. You get answers to questions only when you have built rapport.

So, rapport is done by non-verbal. Means your body language, the way you process information, the way one speak. These subtle cues are key and there will be a matching and mirroring happens.

People like people who are like them and people don’t like people who are not like them. People like how they would like to be.

Style is more important than substance initially.

Tony Robbins

The key is to connect to their style first. When it comes to style, it is the way to process information. The science of NLP has defined 3 ways people process information.

Keen to master rapport building? Enroll to course

NLP – Processing information using VAK Modalities

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 instant rapport, unless you adapt to the kinesthetic way.

There are 3 essential tools available in NLP that is of

  1. Pacing – Pace along with them (in their speed of voice, in the same tone they feel)
  2. Mirroring – Mirror them with body language, with words they use
  3. Leading – Leading them with assertiveness, suggestions

Now, if you can learn and apply these 3 tools, you can build instant trust with any type of buyer.

5 ways to maintain the rapport through our sales call

Now challenge in sales, it is long sales cycle. Key thing to remember is rapport established initially can also break at certain times due to various reasons. You must have ways to build the rapport again.

To do this, here are the 5 ways you can maintain the 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 and use this as tool occasionally.

Small talk- conversation: Learn to start a small conversation outside of the business in the first few minutes of any meeting. 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, to create a lasting bond and rapport, it is essential to understand more about the personality of your buyer. When I say personality, it comes from various personality types. One common personality tool used is DISC (Dominance, influence, Conscientious, Steadiness).

If you can learn to find the personality type and accordingly adjust yours, it can make huge effect!! This is subject by itself and for most sales people NLP way is far more easier to apply.


In today’s world where buyers are flooded with too many choices, what buyers are expecting from sellers is not one more person who just wants to sell his solution, but a seller 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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