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To wrap this week’s series of epic Sales Psychology articles, I want to discuss a subject near and dear to my heart. I’m going to talk about rapport – the state of magical connection where communication simply flows between individuals. It’s the perfect state for selling.
I’m going to break down the ingredients that create rapid and effective rapport. The best part? It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how you pitch your product – these techniques guarantee Jedi sales skill.
What is Rapport?
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
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.
From a sales point of view, rapport is the state where your prospect just gets you. More importantly, the feeling is mutual – they sense that you get them too. This state of mutual “liking” is crucial to closing a sale.
People buy from people who they like
In addition to the logic and rational sales techniques I’ve written about this week, the emotional and psychological impact of powerful rapport is a vital ingredient for selling.
From the prospect’s point of view, a pitch lacking rapport is so uncomfortable that they may not buy, even if their rational criteria are fulfilled AND they really want the product.
On the other end, if a prospect has huge rapport with a salesperson, but doesn’t really want or need the product, there’s still a good chance he’ll buy anyway. Rapport can make or break a deal.
Take control of your communication
Most amateur salespeople leave rapport up to fate. If they can connect with a prospect, fantastic! If they can’t… Oh well. It wasn’t meant to be (or so they say).
In reality, any salesperson is only “rapport-compatible” with one or two personality types similar to their own. When they meet prospects with different psychological makeup, they mysteriously can’t seem to create that rapport connection easily.
The most common example is when highly extroverted salespeople struggle to connect with highly introverted prospects. They’re unlike one another as personality types, so rapport isn’t present.
So how do you take control of the rapport process and deliberately create a state of connection in your prospect’s mind?
People like people who are like them
The secret to Canned Charisma (my nickname for instant rapport) is to be more “like” your prospect. It means having the behavioral flexibility to act similarly to diverse personality types – even ones that are polar opposites from your own.
The secret to rapport is visible, everyday, all around us: It’s as simple as appearing to be similar to your prospect.
An infatuated couple, sitting in a restaurant is the very best example to demonstrate the rapport phenomena. Although you might not want to recreate this level of connection with your prospects, studying the psychology of this couple can give you insight into how rapport is created.
The couple stares into each other’s eyes. They’re eating dinner, and as he tells his funny story, she pauses eating. They’re facing each other, both leaning forward with their elbows on the table. As she giggles, he chuckles. When she lifts her glass to drink, he does the same.
They’re matching and mirroring each other’s body language every step of the way.
After reading this and becoming aware of it, you’ll see this mirroring of body language and behavior occurring everywhere. It’s the physical manifestation of a deeper state of rapport connection.
But here’s the true secret: By deliberately recreating the symptoms of rapport, you can recreate the state of rapport.
When matching and mirroring body language, you can send your prospect an unconscious signal that you are “just like them”, and this subconscious, nonverbal communication is the very essence of building rapport.
We all do this unconsciously. Next time you’re in a meeting, watch people taking sips of their water. Pay attention to friends and family as you hang out. When are these people mirroring you? Better question, when are they NOT mirroring you?
Rapport is totally unconscious for most people. By bringing it into our conscious awareness, we can become more skillful at it. We can learn to mirror people even when they’re vastly different to us. Doing so increases our ability to connect naturally (and sell to) the variety of psychological types we might encounter.
The power of mirroring doesn’t stop at body language, though. In fact, it grows as we apply the principal to other elements of communication. Imagine matching someone’s beliefs, or better yet, their values!
I’m going to break down the intricacies of rapport further in future posts as we continue our month-long sales psychology series.
For now, let me know what you think. Where and with whom do you already have a lot of rapport? Where would having some more be useful? What else could you mirror, besides body language?