This Article is About
suggestion
devil s advocate
rapport building
shoe store
gestures
key words
posture
foundations
robot
Rapport - Accept My Suggestion!
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Rapport   -   Accept My Suggestion!

Will you let me play the devil’s advocate?” I ask, leaning toward my customer with a conspiring smile.

Although I have said this a few times now I have never had anyone say "no". They accept my suggestion that, mere minutes ago, they would have rejected quite soundly.

It’s bold and an unbelievable suggestion that I make and each time I’ve done it my customer has said “yes”.

There are a number of factors at play here and they’re all encompassed in that magical word “rapport”.

Rapport is all about the words we use, the tonality we use them in (how we say them) and, more than anything else, the physiology we approach another person with.

When I’m with my customer in the shoe store I’m not consciously thinking about rapport building, although at one time I learnt the foundations of it and found it helpful to raise my awareness. However, it’s not an accident that some people have the ‘gift of the gab’. Often these people ‘do’ and ‘say’ the things that make others comfortable and like them. This causes people to respond to that person in an easy and more trusting manner.

Rapport leaders may have another person unconsciously crossing their legs when they do, leaning forward attentively when they’re speaking to them or agreeing to things they may otherwise not have agreed with.

I don’t recommend you implement the following like a robot, or I guarantee you’ll look more than a little weird, but here are some things to think about when gaining rapport with another person.

Matching, or mirroring, another person in physiology and tonality are major elements of rapport.

Physiology includes posture, gestures, facial [removed]even blinking) and breathing.

Tonality includes tone (pitch), tempo (speed), timbre (quality) and volume (loudness).

A portion of rapport can also be in the words used. These include using the predicates the other person is comfortable with, the key words they repeat and also entering into common experiences and associations.

How to put this into practice.

Adopt an ‘attitude’ similar to the person you’re gaining rapport with. This is what they feel comfortable with and includes subtly (notice that word!) adopting an appropriate physiology and spoken tonality to match or mirror the other person.

Be an interested listener. The best conversationalists talk about ‘you’.

Ask pertinent questions and be genuinely interested in their response.

Read the situation. Add friendliness and, if appropriate and natural, humour.

Get Down to Their Level!

Squatting at their feet is not mandatory but this is often where I find myself as my customer looks for the perfect shoe for their purpose. By this stage I know all about their feet problems, their family and where they’re planning to take their next holiday (which will require lots of walking). I also know how hard it is for them to find comfortable shoes.

They know a little about me too. Most of all they know, by now, that I’m wearing the best shoe in the shop. It took me a couple of weeks to come to terms with paying this much for a pair of shoes and, during this time, I tried them on many times.

The first day I wore ‘my shoes’ I put them on at 8am and was still wearing them at 8pm that night. Now I put them on straight out of bed because I don’t want to wear anything else. I make a self depreciating joke about wearing my ‘Naot shoes’ and my tracky dacks.

“Would you like to know what high end comfortable shoes feel like?” I ask. “How about I get you a pair to try on that are just like mine?”

And the customer, who minutes ago would have looked no further than the price tag, eagerly complies. With incredible delight they slip their feet into a pair of shoes twice as expensive as they’re considering buying… and twice as comfortable and supportive too.

In every case their face lights up and they’ve just experienced something magical. The shoes sell them selves.

All I do is create the rapport so the customer gets the best option possible. I smile, joke and am attentive.

They don’t always buy ‘my’ shoes (although one customer last week bought three pair!) and sometimes they don’t buy any. Without fail though they leave with a big smile and I grin knowingly.

They’ll be back! Sometimes it’s just to happily parade their new shoes and, other times, they just want to say ‘hello’!


Street Talk

What wonderful tips for building rapport! Girl, you got me wanting these shoes and I have no idea what they look like! Oh and I really don't usually like wearing shoes anyway.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thanks for your fun comment Lacey! If the shoes fit the feet the look isn't so important! ;-)

Reply
  about 5 years ago

I will take the ones in blue, size 12.... :)

Reply
  about 5 years ago

A discount for two pair perhaps?

Reply
  about 5 years ago

You are good........

  
  about 5 years ago
joe witt  

Excellent article Heather, people just like to have someone show a genuine interest.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Joe, that's really what it's all about!

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Good article Heather particularly the part about being an interested listener, I'm sometimes amazed at the things people are willing to share purely by the willingness to listen.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

True Penny!

Reply
  about 5 years ago
Lemuel  

Awesome Heather! NLP in action. I learned a lot.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thanks for reading Lemuel. Yes, I owe a lot of my learnings to NLP.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

You're some salesperson, Heather! And it is often said that good salesmanship is key not just in business, but in life. We sell ourselves in job interviews, we sell our ideas in presentations, we sell the healthier cereal to our kids... Taken to an extreme, of course, that quickly becomes 'manipulation' (a word meaning too much salesmanship) thus it is important to empathize as well. Thanks--a very good article.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Manipulation is such a murky word. No moral person wants to manipulate another and no person wants to be manipulated. Ironically I don't think of myself as a salesperson when I'm working... just happy and friendly and treating people how I'd like to be treated. I think manipulation comes in when the intention is to knowingly influence people to do or buy something that we know is not in their best interest. This isn't win/win and therefore becomes un-ecological (is there such a word?!). Like anything, the most important thing is the intention behind our actions. I agree with you that in many areas we need to be successful in salesmanship.... particularly when our children are involved. I've mentioned elsewhere that if we're not selling them something good (and I don't mean just in the food they eat) then someone else will be more than willing to.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Heather, that was wonderful, thanks!!

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thank you.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

That was one of the best marketing advice articles I have ever read! Congratulations Heather!

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thank you for the high praise...

Reply
  about 5 years ago
Golfspice  

You should coach some of the sales staff in the UK. Having reluctantly visited several furniture stores last weekend, most staff are not interested in what they sell, never mind building a rapport. There were a few muted attempts to discuss the weather, but that was about it.

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Oh it's not just the UK, Golfspice! We have plenty of that attitude here too. My North American husband was quite taken aback when he first arrived in Australia 20+ years ago to find most sales people greeting him with "you right, mate?"

Reply
  about 5 years ago
Barbara9  

very nice article

Reply
  about 5 years ago

Thanks Barbara. Nice you stopped by!

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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