How To Establish Rapport

If you offer products that people truly want; and solve problems that truly bother them, there’s only one more element you need to add to guarantee your success:  How To Establish Rapport.  

When you establish rapport, you say, “I understand you.”  To establish this essential relationship, you need to talk to consumers in the same language they use when they talk to each other….that you’re on “common ground.”

Parlez Vous “Me”?

Russians speak Russian, Italians speak Italian, and Americans speak English…”American” English.  Gas jockeys speak the language of the pump and stockbrokers use the language of Wall Street even when they’re not on the trading floor.   

Consumers speak different languages, too.  They speak the dialects of a thousand tiny sub-cultures…languages related to their jobs, their hometown, their cultures, hobbies, and passions.  If you speak a consumer’s language, in other words, if you can identify the buzzwords of the sub-culture, you can immediately sound like an insider who’s in the know, instead of an outsider trying to make a sale and establish rapport.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Make Bad Decisions (or Drive Drunk)

People trust their friends to give them guidance and advice that’s in their best interest.  They’re suspicious of people who are trying to sell them things and consider their advice “tainted” by the quest for the almighty pound. 

Business “friends” form a friendly, relationship based on mutual trust and common interest. Business friends have “rapport.”   If you can position yourself as a buyer’s trusted and knowledgeable advisor rather than a one-step-up-from-the-liars’-pit salesperson, you’ll be offering sound “advice” not a questionable “hard sell.”

So just how do you establish rapport? 

Do your best to mirror what you observe.  

  • Is the prospect formal or friendly?
  • Is his/her speaking voice loud or soft?
  • Is the energy he/she gives off fast-paced or methodical?  
  • Online you do the research first and then present the message that resonates with the situation the user is facing or seeking to resolve.
  • This applies to online zoom and skype communication too.

Establishing rapport requires sensitivity. Remember a brief joke can do more for buyer rapport than 20 minutes worth of sales talk, unless the buyer is a serious sort who finds humor a “time waster.”   

But Enough About Me…What Do YOU Think (About Me)?

In making a connection and establishing rapport, it’s helpful if you can find something besides business to discuss.  Most people share a favorite topic of conversation:  themselves.  

People love to talk about themselves and they reveal quite a bit when they do.  You’ll immediately get some insight into their mood, personality, and conversational style.  That’s why online you have to know your target audience more then they know themself. The online angle requires research into the mind of the prospect. Offline its easier to established via conversation but online you have to do the research first so you can present the hook of the conversation to grab attention and pattern interrupt their flow within the digital noise. But if you can get them on call (phone or zoom) then this will help you much more in understanding the problem you may be able to help with.

Food For Thought – Fact-Finding Missions

The information you learn about hobbies, pets, children and favourite vacation spots are the foundation for rapport and the beginning of a long, beautiful relationship…and a high ticket sales.

This Is One Of The Most Powerful Influencers Of Human Behaviour.


I know you.  You want to look good, so you figure it’s better to be mysterious about what goes on “behind closed doors” but admitting a mistake makes you human and trustworthy.  As a matter of fact, telling people the REASON why you’re doing something is one of the most powerful influencers of human behaviour.

Let’s face it…if you’re making a special offer — a 50%-off tire sale, a “Buy one, get one free” shoe deal, or a year of complimentary pool cleaning  — nobody thinks you’re doing it just because you’re Mr. Good Guy or Ms. Sweetie Pie. 

In fact, your generosity is likely to make people suspicious.  “That low-cost hifi is probably factory-serviced,” they’ll say to themselves.  Or “I bet that early-bird-special-until-midnight diner was cited by the board of health.”  

If you don’t tell people what’s going on, they’ll make up stories in their head and chances are they won’t be flattering to you or your offer.  Again, don’t take it personally, it’s just human nature — after decades of false advertising.

Let the Sun Shine In

Instead of trying to cover up the truth or put a happy face on your sad story…let people pull back the curtain and take a long, hard look at you and at your company.  

You don’t have anything to hide…so don’t act as though you do!

Let’s say August is traditionally your worst time to make sales and you’re desperate to increase your business during this period to help your cash flow.  Make a special, limited time offer.  

Don’t be coy.  Offer a special discount or freebie and say you’re doing so because it’s your “slow time” and you need to pay your staff anyway.

  • The Order Department Fouled Up – Our customers wanted the Widget X25 mountain bike,  but Dennis in our ordering department ordered the X26 and now we’re over-stocked.
  • Where There’s Smoke, There’s A Sale – The fire in our warehouse damanged a lot of our merchandise, so we’re selling the good stuff for less to help; us re-stock.
  • Around-the-World in 80 Days Sale – I’m lowering my rates to raise cash to send my parents on an around the world cruise for their 50th anniversary.

I know this probably goes against every grain of business sense, but I promise if you give people a good, believable honest reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, they’ll love you for it.  If you open up, they will, too — with open arms…and open wallets

Tell Me Why

People want to have the reason for what you do and they like to have a reason for what they do, too.  

Food for Thought – Ivy League Thinking

In a Harvard University psychology experiment, a test participant approached unsuspecting people waiting in line to use the copier and made a request.

One request was: “Excuse me.  I only have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”  Another request was phrased:  “Excuse me.  I only have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”  In a third situation, the participant said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”  There was no reason given for the need …just the words “because”.  

Request #1 was granted 60% of the time. Request #2, the request coupled with a reason, was successful 94% of the time.  But here’s the clincher:  Believe it or not (and you’d better!):  93% of the people said yes simply due to the word ‘BECAUSE’!

It didn’t matter that there was no reason given for the request.  Just using the magic word “because” triggered the desired response — allowing the test participant to cut in line.

“Because” will have the same effect on your desired response — it will make your customers buy, buy, and then buy some more! 

Simple Ways To Establish Trust And Credibility On Your Website

Roll over skepticism, obliterate cynicism, and convince consumers that you’re one of the good guys…or gals.

Sales don’t just happen by magic.  They’re the result of a process…one that always includes establishing trust.  In order to feel comfortable doing business with you, a buyer has to assure themselves that they will get the value they expect.  In other words, they want to be sure that you will deliver the goods…and take back the “bads.”  

Consumers know that products aren’t always perfect.  It’s what will happen IN CASE of a problem that worries them.  Your prospect needs to trust YOU as the person or business behind the product who will ensure satisfaction.

Web Trust

In the world of Internet Marketing, several factors play into establishing trust and credibility for websites.  (It’s easy to see how these factors would be equally important in offline advertising as well.  Just substitute the words “website content” with “marketing copy.”)

  • Is the website content professional? 
  • Is the website content presented in a clear manner?
  • Is the website content well-organised and easy to follow?
  • Do the graphics and design of your website content distract from the purpose of your message?  

It’s true that trust is built over time, but establishing trust with web site visitors doesn’t necessarily require a tremendous investment to yield tremendous results in a relatively short period.  

Here are some quick pointers:

  • Display your company contact information prominently on your web site — including address and phone number (This legitimises your business and shows that you exist in real time and space 
  • Give away free stuff (Discounts, coupons, and trial offers attract visitors to your site and literally keep them coming back for more)
  • Display policies about shipping, returns, online transactions, and information privacy on your site (This legitimises your business and gives evidence of your commitment to your customer’s well- being)

People Are Deeply Affected By What Others Think

You don’t have to be a teenager to experience peer pressure. People are deeply affected by what others think whether they’re young, old, rich, poor, male, or female.

People will visit websites that are on “most-visited” lists, buy mobile phones on the “most useful (Apple 😉)” lists, and spend their movie pounds on “the #1 film in the country.”   It’s because social proof is also related to people’s desire to be in agreement with “everyone else,” and not have a mistaken belief about what is true and what is not.  

Take a Tip From Me

This tendency is the reason some gourmet coffee shops for example in the US put a few $1 bills in tip jars at the beginning of the night.  It’s to simulate tips, of course, but not 25 or 50-cent tips.  “Seeding” the tip jar sends the message that $1 tips is what “everyone else” is giving.  

And why do you think “snake oil salesmen” seed their audiences with “ringers” who come forward at a specific time to give witness…and donations?  It’s to get the ball (and the money) rolling.

It’s not an accident…it’s psychology at work!

DO Ask and DO Tell

Have you ever wondered why the heck some national brand companies run those contests asking people to write down “Why I like (Name of Product)” in 100 words or less? 

Nabisco is one smart cookie of a company.  Rather than paying a high-priced advertising agency or research company millions of dollars to develop slogans that might appeal to consumers, companies that use contests let the target audience itself express what definitely appeals to them.  

For the chance of winning prizes, droves of people are willing to go on record as liking the product, giving the company countless glowing testimonials.  Companies can confidently roll out headlines based on the benefits and features they know consumers will respond to.  

For example:

  • 10,000 Consumers Say, “Nabisco cookies taste better”
  • “Nabisco Is A Lifesaver” says Ohio Girl Scout troop leader
  • “When I want good quality and great value, I buy Nabisco

The contest comments transform into button-pushers that connect with a consumer’s “Everybody else is doing it so I should be, too” feelings.  

Tell the world how special you are!

Do Something That Sets You Apart From Your Competition And The Marketplace

The unique quality of a product or service is the major reason that people buy from you instead of the guys down the block.  So if you do something that sets you apart from your competition the marketplace…if you make a better widget, a cheaper, widget, or can deliver a piping, hot xyz Pizza in 20 minutes or less guaranteed…don’t keep it a secret.

Tell the world how special you are! (The world will want to get to know you)

Once your company has identified its uniqueness, it will be the key message communicated in everything you do. Your uniqueness will be distilled down to an essential phrase  — sometimes referred to as a unique selling position  or unique sales proposition by marketing smarties (and a slogan or motto by everyone else).  

Your USP morphs into headlines for all of your ads, letters, brochures, TV, video and radio or podcasts messages. It’s on the tip of your tongue whenever you’re talking sales-talk, ready to make an impression on a potential customer when the time is right.  It’s the first thing you think of when you open your business eyes in the morning and the last thing you think of when you close your office door at night.

They’re Good, But We’re Better

Who’s better, you or “Brand X”?  You should know your competitor so well that when you ask a prospective customer, “What other widgets have you been looking at?” you’ll be able to respond to your prospect’s answer by sharing specific details about that product or service and why selecting your widget is a better choice. 

Talking about the competition is a good time to accentuate the positive.  Instead of trashing your competitor’s business, explain that your competitor (or competitor’s product) is good enough, but that yours provides SUPERIOR value.  The less your comments sound like someone simply trying to do a hatchet job on “Brand X,” the more trust and confidence your customer will have in you and your advice.  

Since winning the hearts and mind (trust and confidence) of a prospect is half the battle in sales, you’ll be well on your way to a big win.

Food for Thought – Say It to Claim It

Even if you do many things the same way your competitors do, the benefit you point to may be unique to a prospect because your competition doesn’t mention it.

With the stiff competition of a shrinking global marketplace, you must find ways to set yourself apart from the rest.  Learning good digital marketing practices and principles will help you to weather the storm and create compelling sales messages that bring new customers to your door and old customers back for return purchases.  

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