How Do You Establish Rapport?

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Piggy-backing on my previous post about “know, like, and trust” I thought of the word “rapport” because it is often used in a similar context with trust.  You may have heard the phrase,”you need to build trust and rapport” as it relates to establishing a bonding relationship with a customer or prospect.

But what does rapport really mean?

I did some dictionary searches and found that, as it can be best figured, the word started surfacing around the late 1500’s to the early 1600’s.  It is a French word (pronounced “Ra – pour“).  It’s meaning is actually a derivation of another French word, “rapporter,” which means to bring back.  The psychological meaning is to have “intense harmonious accord.”  All technical definitions aside, when it comes to marketing rapport has a slightly different meaning.

We are always taught in our sales training classes that we need to establish rapport with the prospect so that they can feel comfortable buying from us (similar to the intense harmonious accord).  This makes rapport a “feeling” that we have to establish, measured by who knows what standard, other than a signed order and each party happily involved.

I think when we dig back into the dictionary definition a little more we see that rapport is really a noun (person, place or thing).  It is a “thing’ we describe that we have with another person.  Definitely relational, but I believe it is much more than a feeling.  It is also something that we can’t just manufacture by giving you a check list of things to accomplish in order to achieve rapport.

So how do you establish rapport with someone?

Remembering that rapport is a connection you have with someone else that needs to be harmonious, it really is a state that is achieved when both parties are actively involved. You can’t do it all, and neither can the prospect.  It is a balance between the two of you.  It helps if you have common interests, goals, or ideals.  However, rapport will naturally be the byproduct of working at establishing and nurturing your relationship with the other person.  Much like in a dating situation.  It will take time for you to get to know the other person, adjust to their preferences, and ultimately develop a way that you work together.  Now rapport is sounding much more like a verb than a noun!

So to develop a state of intense harmonious accord (rapport-noun) you have to work through a process of genuinely getting to know someone and how they operate best with you (rapport-verb).  This is nothing that happens quickly, but when it does finally occur you have developed a much better long-term, ideal customer – and that’s what we are always looking fro when we market.

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