You’ve probably heard the saying in sales that “People do business with people they like.” But what makes people like you? If you follow the sales tactics in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, chances are not too many customers like you. But do people really “like” you or do they TRUST you? In my experience it’s trust, and building rapport leads you down the path to establishing trust.

How to develop rapport is key to your success and performance—not only in sales but also in life. In fact, rapport building is at the root of effective communication.

Rap • port
a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well. 

Here are three effective ways on how to build rapport with your customers:

1. Understand your customers.

If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand sales. Understanding your customers is the key to giving them good service. The “Always Be Closing” approach doesn’t work anymore. Today, you need attunement—understanding someone’s perspective.

Rapport building is at the root of effective communication.

When it comes to your competition, how do you handle yourself during a sales call? Have you bashed them? Do you exaggerate your company? Do you argue or debate with a prospect why they should do business with your company rather than your competitor?

Unfortunately, if you’ve gone down this road, your emotions got the best of you, and you probably didn’t earn the customer’s trust or respect. We all want to aggressively compete, but “mudslinging” your competition is never the right approach.

Building Rapport Leads to Effective Communication

2. Communicate with your customers

Despite all of the technology we have at our finger tips, communication is still an instrumental part in our life. We still need human interaction. Listening is a skill. It’s a lost art. But if one can hone in on this skill, one will build rapport, improve communication, instill TRUST, establish relationships, and in the end increase sales performance. Listening helps us better understand and communicate with our customers.

Probably the most important part of understanding people today is explaining the WHY. People in your life will make time for you if they really want to. If you’re in sales today, you need to give customers a reason WHY they need to meet with you. Customers will buy if they believe what you believe. Rule of thumb: Listen to understand instead of listening to respond.

3. Acknowledge and appreciate your customer’s feelings

I’ve seen this quote a lot: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” When was the last time you thanked your customers or even your prospects? Do you just contact your customers to “upsell” them a product/service? A simple thank you goes a long way. But be specific of what you’re thanking them for.

Saying thank you is self-explanatory. Thank you should be in your vocabulary—even when a customer decides to leave the fold. Although you will never please every customer—never, ever burn a bridge.

So follow these three simple steps to build rapport. Building rapport leads to effective communication.

Greg Hahn

Greg Hahn is known for entrepreneurial vision and translating vision into revenue generation and productivity, thriving in a diverse and fast-paced executive environment. Throughout his sales management career, he has led several sales teams toward positive growth. His most recent accomplishment was with The Blue Book Network. In just two years, he was able to reverse an under performing region to one of the top regions in the company in 2015. Greg specializes in online marketing including website consulting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and social media marketing.