Nothing Sells Like Rapport


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The Number 1 Reason People Buy

If you’ve been in sales for any length of time at all, you already know this one. Everyone says “The customer must buy you before they buy your product or service”. And most people always presumed this was pretty much out of their control – just the “luck of the draw”. Sure we had the body language people telling us to “match and mirror” and so forth, but that wasn’t quite enough either.

Well nowadays we have come a lot further than that because now we not only understand that people feel comfortable with us when they sense a feeling of rapport, but also we actually have at our disposal the building blocks of the deepest, most authentic rapport imaginable.

The number 1 reason people buy from you is that they sense a feeling of rapport with you. There’s more to it than that, of course, but without rapport to start with, the rest hardly matters.

It’s Far More than Body Language

A knowledge of body language is nowhere near enough to create authentic rapport with your client. In order to create a deep, quality connection with someone, we first have to notice things that have mostly never before been part of our conscious awareness. We must notice a full range of verbal and non-verbal behaviours such as: eye accessing cues, breathing, skin tone, muscle tone and movement, lip size, nostril size, size of eye or pupil, gestures, language clues (predicates). These are just some of the indications of how the person is processing his/her experience.

This “noticing” is a skill that very few individuals have unless they’ve been trained to do so. Many people claim to have these skills, but putting them to the test usually shows they were deluding themselves. This skill set is called “calibration” and you are going to begin learning it right now.

If you can calibrate people accurately, as well as achieve and maintain rapport, then you have the potential to become one of the greatest sales people in the world (and you’ll simultaneously be one of the greatest communicators!). Keep in mind that rapport cannot be faked because the overwhelming majority of rapport behaviour is mediated subconsciously.

People sometimes try to fake rapport, especially if they know a few “pacing and leading” skills or have some facility with language patterns. Interestingly, without authentic rapport they are not likely to succeed for long, if at all. With authentic rapport, which is really “from the heart”, they find themselves unable to manipulate with exploitative intent because hurting that other person would be almost the same as hurting oneself.


When we are in rapport with another person or a group, we have a sense of connection, as if we are not so much “I” and “you”, but “we”. Everyone has experienced this at one time or another and maybe even been intensely moved by it. Rapport is a state of mutual attraction, and is the single most important aspect of charisma.

When we are in rapport with another, we find it easy and natural to maintain eye contact. We probably don’t even notice that our physiology matches quite closely (similar breathing pattern, blink rate, heart beat, posture, muscle tone, skin tone, gestures, voice tone, pitch, volume, cadence and hundreds of other non-verbal cues) or that our language matches quite closely (using language predicates which indicate primarily visual, auditory or kinaesthetic processing, using similar “big picture” or “detail” language, mimicking each other’s precise words as we give feedback from time to time, etc).

Although we can deliberately induce rapport, we cannot fake it. By deliberately inducing it, we put ourselves in rapport with the other person and even if we began by wishing to influence or persuade, we will discover that we cannot exploit the other any more than we’d seek to exploit ourselves. That’s the nature of true rapport.

If you sincerely wish to develop the ability to achieve and maintain exquisite rapport with others, you really must study NLP. In our NLP training we give absolute prominence to rapport and spend the first two days just teaching the verbal and non-verbal cues and having people practise and respond to them. (You’ll find a complete description in our book “NLP in 10 Days”, which is the comprehensive training manual for the program. ) Throughout the 10 days’ training, we fine tune and build on that, stressing rapport above and beyond every other aspect of NLP. NLP can take your communication skills into the stratosphere, but not without the foundation provided by exquisite rapport.

How can you begin to build great rapport right now? Keep these points in mind whenever you are with another person and you wish to practise rapport:

- Leave ego behind: pretend to actually be the other person

- Put your whole attention on the other person.

- Match their body language as closely as you can, even imagining that your heart beat is synchronised with theirs

- Imagine that your “state of mind” is synchronised with theirs

- Use similar words when you give feedback. Rather than interpret what they say by “translating” into your own style of expression, parrot back their own words (trust me, use their own words or you'll find yourself constantly breaking rapport!)

- Think to yourself about this person “I really, really like you”

This is called “pacing” and is vital to rapport. You can think of it as “meeting them where they are”. You cannot reach or have impact on a person without first “going where they are”. Just doing this will make a huge difference to the way you bond with colleagues, friends and loved ones alike. You will find that this process of reaching out for rapport, even though it might feel staged, actually causes you to feel quite differently toward people. It’s not about what you’re doing to others – it’s about what you’re doing to yourself!

Christine Sutherland is the author of “Take Your Team to the Top" and the founder of My Speed Business Network, a free Web 2.0 community which helps business and sales professionals to develop better business development strategies. You can read more of Christine's articles on


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