Sales Coach Christine Harrington

The Rapport Key to Qualifying Prospects

Rapport is often a misunderstood component during the sales process. It’s become sales babble that’s frankly overused. And most sales professionals build rapport the same way. Thus the prospect knows exactly what you’ll say and do, the minute you call him or sit down across from him. Yes…it’s become that old and predictable.

Be different and here’s how!

The Rapport Key to Qualifying Prospects

Rapport is more than commenting on the prospects family pictures displayed across the office wall or trying to connect by looking for one thing that you and the prospect have in common. I know…we’ve all been taught to do this. AND every sales person that steps into the prospects office does the same thing.

Rapport is very important for qualifying prospects. Without it, your prospect will simply refuse to open up. That’s why rapport building is one of the key components in qualifying prospects.

RAPPORT: The Sales Definition

“To capture and keep someone’s attention and interest, on a conscious and unconscious level.”

When creating rapport, the unconscious message that’s being sent is

I care about you.”

I’m just like you.

Rapport is created when people associate with other people of the same commonality. For example, couples with children gravitate towards making friends with other couples with children around the same age.

Rapport is created when people connect on similarity. What comes to mind is politics. People tend to connect with people who are invested in similar views and values on a political connection. I use politics as an example only! I don’t suggest you use religion or politics to build rapport in a business setting. Those two subjects I believe are still taboo because they’re so personal.

Here is where most sale people make a mistake with rapport building…it’s believed that once rapport has been established at the beginning of the sales process, then it’s all good!

Actually, rapport will ebb and flow all through the sales process. Don’t make the mistake of taking rapport for granted when you first establish it.

How do you establish rapport?

 It’s a widely accepted practice to build rapport in the introductory phase of the sales process by commenting on something you see in the prospects office. Or perhaps you’ve done your homework before making the sales phone call and you know the prospect is a big baseball fan.

So usually every sales person starts the introduction like this…

I see you’re an avid golfer. So am I! What’s your favorite golf course?”

Before you know it, the prospect is off and running telling golf stories. All the while, you think you’re building rapport. It’s been 10 minutes, and he’s sill talking about golf. You’ve lost control and scratch your head in disbelief when he doesn’t buy.

Instead….build rapport by using justifiers and tone.

Whether over the phone or face to face, you have 4 seconds to capture the prospects attention. If you missed the article “4 Seconds..That’s It”, you can read it here.

Justifiers are used to justify the reason why. For example, when talking to a prospect you’re qualifying say…

“Just a couple of quick questions so I don’t waste your time.”

In this example the word “so” is the justifier.

Rapport building is not only using words but also connecting certain tones when using words during the qualification process.  

Think back to a situation when you talked to someone who was monotone. What did you do after a few minutes…more than likely you tuned the person out completely. Was rapport built? Highly unlikely.

Now think of a person who talked fast and excited through out the entire conversation…what was your impression? You probably thought the person was a fake and too aggressive.

That’s why tone is important when conversing. Use tone to emphasize an important point and drop the volume of your voice to convey a critical point.

There are actually 8 critical tones for successful communication. And I will write about that in an upcoming article

Let’s go back to the beginning of the article. My suggestion is to be different about how you build rapport. Through out the entire conversation use justifiers and tone. After the sale has been concluded, you can talk about golf, baseball or whatever strikes the prospects fancy. Be different. Don’t lead like every sales person that walks into the prospect’s office!

Last, this is an article you’ll also want to watch on my YouTube Video in order to hear the different tonalities I refer to in this article. Take a peek here after you leave your comments below!


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