Over the past several years, your sales efforts have increased whereas your sales returns are harder to come by. You are working harder for every win and the wins don’t come often or easy.

Reality is, real decision-makers (not the ones who put on the temporary mask and tell you that they’re the guy) are no longer interested in building another relationship or the social comforts of rapport. They’re interested in getting it right and surrounding themselves with companies and people who have their back.

Rapport is nothing more than a social filter prospects use to determine if they even want to invest in a conversation with you. It’s the same process we use when we meet people at a party or social event. It’s a matter of figuring out how painful or enjoyable talking to this person will be.

Six Truths About Rapport

  1. Its business value is overstated. Rapport may have worked in the past but the reality is decision makers have more on the line in today’s intensely scrutinized business environment. Getting it right is critical, both personally and professionally.The other reason rapport has less business value is business problems are simply more complex. Rapport isn’t going to protect your prospect from losing his job, or replace a missed bonus when his decision fails. They may accept your invite for lunch, dinner, and golf, but they are not going to risk their livelihood because you’re a great guy.
  2. It comes naturally, especially if you’re social person. Building rapport is what you do when you are focused on being accepted. It’s a social acceptance, not a business acceptance. Rapport appeals to our innate human social intimacy. It has been mastered by the old-timers in your sales office and those with a special charisma that many of us will never have. Rapport establishes commonality, not to be confused with credibility.
  3. You learned it on day one. Rapport has been handed down sales generation to sales generation. Think about your first five impressionable years in sales. You didn’t know what you didn’t know, so you naturally defaulted to what the sage veterans offered. This may have been one of your first false truths in sales.
  4. There is a psychological component to rapport. It makes you feel good. Sales are about risk. It’s about putting yourself in the face of rejection every day. Rejection can be a direct hit on your self-esteem, and leave you feeling vulnerable. Building rapport is a chance to regain some validation and self-esteem, but it won’t win the sale.
  5. You’re not exclusive. Every salesperson tries to build rapport with their prospects. Your prospect is surrounded by people who want to find a common bond. It’s what the incumbent and your competitors have already established.
  6. It is a mutual hiding place. In the end, rapport is a hiding place for you and your prospect. For you, it offers the avoidance of challenging prospects (or yourself) by asking difficult questions. For your prospect, it offers a sense of security regarding the status quo and not firing the incumbent.

We tend to buy from people who have our best interest at heart and who have our backs. Rapport is safe. It’s accepting. It provides a sense of personal validation. However, none of those things have anything to do with building business credibility.

Do a 180 on rapport. Start challenging the prospect on their assumptions, buying patterns, expectations, and thinking. This is how rapport is built in today’s selling environment. Show the prospect that you have their back because the status quo isn’t safe anymore.