How to Build Rapport with Anyone

By Dave Kahle

Building rapport with customers is like squirting oil into gears. Imagine some gears grinding together. When you squirt lubricating oil into the gears, you reduce the friction and make everything work smoother.

So it is when two people interact with each other. Rapport, like lubricating oil, reduces the friction and makes the interaction work smoother. For a sales person, creating rapport with any human being is an essential step that enables the customer to feel comfortable, and leads to a much more effective sales interaction. The best sales people create rapport with everyone.

Fortunately, creating that sense of understanding and mutual trust is a skill which has been studied through the ages. Here are a few proven ways to build rapport with anyone.

1. Pay attention to your appearance.

People will form an impression of you, based on how you look, before they even say hello to you. Your appearance, then, should be designed to help you look confident and competent – whatever that means in your market. At a minimum, that means clothes clean and pressed, shoes shined and hair cut.

Your attire should help you connect with the customer — not separate you from him. For example, if you are calling on production supervisors, you shouldn’t wear a suit and tie, as that will separate you from them and generate a bit of discomfort in them.

The best rule I’ve seen is this: Dress like your customer, only a little better. On several occasions, I have worked with sales forces who sold to farmers. Blue jeans and flannel shirts are OK, as long as they are clean and pressed blue jeans, and a better quality flannel shirt.

But what if you call on several different types of customers in the same day? One sales person shared his approach to this problem. He wore gray slacks, a blue button-down collar shirt, and a navy blazer. When he called on managers and executives, he dressed it up by putting on a tie. And, when he called on people who weren’t in the executive suite, he dressed it down by removing the blazer and the tie.


2. Use a sincere compliment

Everyone likes to be complimented. When you sincerely compliment a customer (or his company), you communicate that you are interested in him/her, that you have noticed something they do that stands out, and that you aren’t afraid to say something complimentary. Those are all good things.

Not so long ago, I entered a prospect’s office building for the first time. The lobby was quite dramatic, with a two story atrium, and a soaring piece of sculpture. When he came down to meet me, I immediately told him that the lobby was very impressive, and that I felt very comfortable and a bit inspired because of it. We chatted for a few minutes about it and I then followed him to his office, having achieved some rapport.


3. Ask a perceptive question

A perceptive question, asked with sincerity, does everything that a compliment does and then some. When the compliment doesn’t call for any response from the customer, a question does. If done correctly, it can initiate the conversation and help the customer feel like you are interested and care about him.

In the previous situation, for example, I could have said, “Was it designed to create that kind of feeling?”

4. Indicate a personal connection

If you have something in common with the customer, mention it. You don’t have to beat it to death, just mention it. When the customer discovers that you both know the same person, went to the same school, vacationed in the same place, or belong to the same organization, he realizes that you are alike in some ways. It’s easier to do business with someone who is like you.

Building rapport is a science with proven practices and tactics. Use any of these techniques and watch your ability to create rapport improve, and thereby smooth out the way to more sales.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:

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It’s Time to Take Charge of Your CRM

CRM software holds the promise of improving efficiency within your organization by automating the front office business processes that impact sales and customer service.


There are dozens of CRM software programs to choose from and all at different price points. Some offer comprehensive functionality across multiple departments and some are more targeted at automation of contact management and sales. Thanks to cloud computing, these systems have become easy to use and easy to deploy. Despite this fact, small to mid-size businesses continue to struggle with utilization and realizing a return on their investment. The reason for this is quite clear, and it all starts at the top.

“I suspect that greater than 50 percent of small businesses that purchase a CRM solution fail to appreciate that the successful implementation and use of CRM software does not end with the selection process. In fact, it’s just beginning.”

Larry Caretsky, CEO Commence Corporation

CRM software provides the tools to automate internal business processes, but it requires a commitment from the management of the organization to create a structured process for marketing, selling and providing service to your customers. Here is an example. Automating the sales process is a core component of almost every CRM solution, but you cannot automate a process if it does not exist. So many companies implement a CRM solution somehow thinking that the system will guide them along and help them with the automation process. Guess what? It won’t. People are the most important component to the successful implementation and use of CRM software. You will discover that the value you realize from the system will be directly proportionate to what you put into the system.

Here is my point. If you have made a decision to implement a CRM system, that’s great. But if you expect to significantly improve efficiency within your organization, be prepared to assign a CRM administrator to manage and maintain the solution. Also engage your sales, marketing and customer service organization so that you can first create then automate the internal processes they are comfortable with. These tips will ensure that you get buy in from your team, utilization of the product, and added value to your business.

Take charge of your CRM system and it will provide a handsome return for your business.

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