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Quiz: Which Opening Builds Rapport?

Rapport building is probably the most important of all selling skills, especially in retail, where the sales associate typically has 10 seconds or less to build rapport. Here are three common approaches to rapport building in a retail sales situations. Can you spot the one that's most likely to lead to an eventual sale?

Scenario: You walk into a store. The sales associate sees you, walks over to you (slowly-- not pouncing) and, with complete sincerity, says:

  • APPROACH #1: "Welcome to our store! May I help you?"
  • APPROACH #2: "Can I ask a question? Why, out of all the stores in this city, did you decide to come into this one?"
  • APPROACH #3: "What is it going to take get you to buy something today?"

According to to Dr. Earl Taylor, a thirty year employee and master trainer at Dale Carnegie, approach #2 is most likely to prove effective. The reason is simple. It shows real curiosity about the prospect, and leads towards a real conversation.

By contrast "May I help you?" (#1) is just noise, while "What is it going to take..." is simply annoying. Interestingly, both of these approaches are widely taught in retail sales training classes.

Here's some specific advice from Earl on how to make this technique work:

When you meet any customer for the first time, visualize that customer as an honored guest in your home. If you're like most people, when you welcome guests into your home, you are typically glad to see them and you want to make them feel welcome and at ease. While the specifics of what you might say to a customer are different from what you might say to a house guest, the motivation and attitude behind the words should be the same.
READERS: What other approaches build rapport quickly?
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