What are the most effective techniques salespeople use to build rapport?


Overall, we find that retail employees use five broad categories of rapport-building behaviors in commercial contexts: uncommonly attentive behavior, common grounding behavior, courteous behavior, connecting behavior, and information sharing behavior. 

Source: “Rapport-Building Behaviors Used by Retail Employees” from Journal of Retailing, Vol. 84, No. 3. (September 2008), pp. 308-324.

And what does each of those terms mean?

1) Uncommonly attentive behavior

“Such behaviors often appear in situations in which the employee, as perceived by the customer, performs out-of-the-ordinary or above-and-beyond actions.”

Examples are extreme effort (calling other stores), personal recognition (like remembering the customer’s name), or intense personal interest (seeming to be more interested in the customer than the sale.) 

2) Common grounding behavior

“involve situations in which the employee seeks to discover or discovers through serendipity something that he or she has in common with the customer.”

This can be common interests like hobbies, hometowns or sports teams.

3) Courteous behavior

“situations in which the employee demonstrates genuinely courteous behavior that appears to be a natural part of his or her disposition and therefore might not be considered a behavior that is in the company’s best interests. That is, the employee’s behavior suggests he or she is truly looking out for the customer rather than trying to make a sale.”

Examples are unexpected levels of honesty, being especially polite, and making an effort to see things from the customer’s POV.

4) Connecting behavior

“the employee explicitly attempts to develop a connection with the customer. Through the employee’s behavior, a bond or sense of affiliation forms.”

Examples are humor and warm, friendly conversation.

5) Information sharing behavior.

“employees either attempt to share information with or gather information from the customer to understand the customer better and serve his or her needs more effectively.”

Examples are giving advice, information or asking questions.

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