Rapport works on the natural and automatic principle that people feel comfortable with others that they judge are like themselves. This usually happens at an unconscious level. When we are with people with whom we feel comfortable, and are perhaps sharing something important, we often find ourselves naturally and automatically imitating some aspects of the way that they behave or speak.
Over the telephone the senses become so concentrated around the voice and the chosen words that rapid, unconscious judgements are made about the other person based on how they speak. In order to make this principle work for us; we need to make the rapport effect repeatable and controllable by using it consciously.
Effective sales professionals will often deliberately match the way that their customers speak in some way, increasing the feeling of comfort, or trust. It is not appropriate to “mimic” the other person’s voice, but choose some aspect of the way that they speak, and move closer to it. Aspects to consider are:
- Rate of speech – speed up or slow down a little.
- Volume of speech – a little louder with people who shout, quieter with the whisperers.
- Speech rhythm – watch for flowing speech, or a style with irregular gaps between words.
- Sentence length – some people do not pause for breath, have never heard of a full stop. Others use short, pointed sentences, sometimes with long pauses between.
- Tonality – using the full natural range of tone.
- Articulation – some people use their entire natural tonality range to produce interesting speech, others are more “wooden” on the phone, sounding rather robotic.
- Vocabulary – some people choose long words, and lots of them, others are more to the point. Some use technical jargon – where you can, follow them.
The matching does not have to be exact; any shift, which brings you closer to them, will help to subliminally convey “I am like you”. Customers will feel more comfortable with you surprisingly quickly, perceiving you as “normal” – which to them means like themselves.
Our Selling…Increasing Sales by Telephone open course gives a salesperson a clear view of the responsibilities and requirements of a professional telephone based sales role. For more information please contact us.