Ten Seconds to Better Rapport

Last Updated Sep 4, 2008 11:22 PM EDT

Rapport for sure
Here's a ten-second method to build better rapport with a customer. I can testify that it works, as I've used it literally hundreds of times. It's a close to a "Jedi Mind Trick" sales technique as I think you're ever going to find.

This method based upon the scientific observation that people have what are sometimes called "thought modalities" or, more colloquially, "have their brain wired different ways." Research has shown that most people favor one of the three different modalities:

  1. Visual. The person values and responds to what he or she SEES. A visual person will tend to dress flashy, talk quickly, and use plenty of broad hand gestures.
  2. Auditory. The person values and responds to what he or she HEARS. An auditory person will tend to dress conservatively, talk in an even tone, and use subtle hand gestures, usually synchronized with what's being said.
  3. Kinesthetic. The person values and responds to what he or she FEELS. A kinesthetic person will tend to dress casually, talk quite slowly, and make many "checking" gestures, like touching their chin while thinking.
People tend to feel more comfortable with, and prefer to spend time with, other people who share the same modality. They tend to dislike or distrust people who have a different modality. For example, if a prospect is a "visual" and you normally speak like a "kinesthetic," the prospect is likely to think that you're dull or stupid. Similarly, if the prospect is a "kinesthetic" and you talk like a "auditory," the prospect is likely to think you glib or vapid.

Here's how you use this phenomenon to build rapport almost instantly.

When you have your first real meeting with a prospect, listen to the way that they speak -- before you get into the business end of the discussion. A good way to do this is to ask the friendly personal question. I usually use something like: "Before we get started, I'm really curious...how did you end up in such an interesting job/industry/career?"

When the prospect answers, notice carefully the speed with which the prospect talks and the vocabulary that he or she uses. The combination of the two almost ALWAYS reveals the prospect's primary modality. Example:

  1. Visual. The prospect will speak very fast and use words like bright, brilliant, clear, demonstrate, focus, frame, glimpse, highlight, illuminate, imagine, light, magnify, perspective, reflect, scan, see, shine, show, viewpoint."
  2. Auditory. The prospect will speak at a moderate rate and use works like articulate, assert, audacious, banter, boast, call, crunch, dictated, discuss, edit, note, persuade, promise, recap, ring, say, speak, talk.
  3. Kinesthetic. The prospect will speak a bit slower than average and use words like bask, blink, bounce, breathe, catch, chop, crawl, friction, heart, impact, impress, move, post, push, sense, sharp, smell, smile, strike, throw, touch, walk, weigh.
Once you've determined the prospect's modality, speak at the same speed and use the same kind of words. The prospect will immediately feel that you understand them better. If you're sitting across from the prospect, you may even see the prospect physically relax and smile. And why not? You've proven, at a visceral level, that you're on the same wavelength.

This technique really works. It's one of the main reasons that I'm so good on the phone, and can pretty much get in sync with anyone. By the way, while I've practiced this technique for years (I original learned it from Tony Robbins), the specific list of words in this post came from Steve Martin, the author of "Heavy Hitter Selling" and "Heavy Hitter Sales Wisdom". Smart guy.

Anyone else have a sales-oriented "Jedi Mind Trick" to share?