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The Most Important Type of Customer Rapport
Blog / For Sales Pros / Nov 17, 2017 / Posted by Jeffrey Lipsius / 5504

The Most Important Type of Customer Rapport


Back in my cold-calling days, a Health Food Store owner whom I solicited agreed to buy one trial bottle of the multi-vitamin I was selling. I placed a follow up call with him a month later to see how the trial went. He responded, “Yes, that was the best multiple I’ve seen. Please ship me another bottle.” I replied, “If you think it’s so great, why are you buying just one?” He replied, “Oh, it’s not for my vitamin store. I want it to give to my family.” Utterly confused, I asked him if he could elaborate. He answered, “You were right, it’s a great multi and my family’s appreciative that you introduced it to me. I just wouldn’t be able to get my customers to buy something costing over $10.”

At that moment it dawned on me that I successfully established rapport, but it was the wrong rapport. The retailer trusted me, but didn’t trust himself. He lacked confidence in his ability to persuade customers to pay a little more for something healthier. His lack of self-rapport trumped all the rapport between him and me.

This realization threw a lot of what I learned from traditional sales training out the window. Sales trainers emphasized establishing rapport between the salesperson and the customer. I never heard a sales trainer talk about establishing customer self-rapport. Yet I was discovering that customer self-rapport was the more important of the two. I could successfully built rapport with a customer, but if that customer lacked self-rapport, then buying wouldn’t happen. I can also recall occasions when I lacked good rapport with a customer, but the customer bought anyway. The customer’s self-rapport was strong enough to outweigh the lack of rapport between the customer and me.

I continued to notice more instances where lack of customer self-rapport posed significant obstacles to buying. Often, a customer said something like, “This is a bigger decision than I can make on my own.” Or, “I don’t think my business will be successful enough to afford that.” I would recognize such statements as coming from the customer’s lack of self-rapport.

These days I’ve come to the realization that customer self-rapport is one of the biggest factors affecting decision-making. Low customer self-rapport is disastrous for making good buying-decisions. Its significance is underestimated because salespeople don’t see it. It happens silently inside the customer’s head.

It becomes salespeople’s challenge, then, to prioritize supporting customers to strengthen their self-rapport. Customers may display a tough veneer to salespeople. In reality, they can feel self-doubts and insecurities just like salespeople can. Customers’ insecure thoughts and feelings are detrimental to their self-rapport.

Traditional sales training underestimates the importance of customer self-rapport. In actuality, it’s one of the most important factors to affect your customer’s decision-making.

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About Author

Jeffrey Lipsius is President of Selling To The Point®-Sales Training and Consulting. Jeffrey has been training salespeople for over 30 years. His award-winning book, “Selling To The Point,” teaches salespeople to address a challenging new sales environment by being their customer’s “decision-coach”.

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If you are a salesperson, Selling To The Point can radically improve the way you work. Selling To The Point begins by showing that the whole idea of "selling" something to someone is over, finished, dead. Yes, it might be true that using your old ways,…
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