Make it sustainable

Become a better seller with a relational approach | Part 5: Make it sustainable

By: Rebecca Bergsland –

This is the fifth and last article in the series on how to become a better seller by building sustainable win-win relations with clients and potential clients. The discussed tools can be applied to any relationship in your work or private life.

Article overview:

  1. The relationship to yourself
  2. Identify the now
  3. Identify the dream scenario
  4. Become the bridge
  5. Bonus: Make it sustainable

The initial article in this series presented three fundamental set of actions for personal development which all have the power to impact directly on your sales work. It was described how you can find your “why”, how to genuinely embrace the attitude to give and how you can be your own best example of the value of your services. The second article explained how you can start to build a solid foundation to the client by establishing their current situation and use selective validation to mobilise her or him towards their (and your!) desired direction. Thereafter, part three in the series regarded motivation and how to identify the client’s dream scenario. The fourth article showed how you take the client there by creating a structure consisting of her/his own resources together with the services you offer. Wrapping up the series, this final bonus text will teach you how to make the relationship sustainable and transform your client into a returning customer.

The magic of rapport

Up until now you have learned specific strategies for each step in the process to transform a potential client into an actual client. Building on all of this, you will now be introduced to a technique to be used throughout the whole process; a skill that will turn your client into a returning customer. To accomplish this you have to take the lead. To lead you first have to follow. Introducing rapport.

What is rapport, you might wonder? In its simplest form, rapport is total responsiveness in interaction. As such, it is created between two people in any form of intercommunication by a feeling of communality. Contradictory to the saying “opposite attracts” us humans actually more often tend to like people that are like ourselves (or how we would like to be). Therefore, to intentionally mirror your client or potential client is a very powerful act. This means to follow and repeat their indirect and direct communication. Normally we mirror others in our everyday interactions without even being aware of it – especially with people who are like ourselves. In these interactions rapport develops naturally. However, by learning the strategies of mirroring, we can build rapport with anyone and use it to benefit both parts.

How to use mirroring effectively

As 97 % of human communication occurs non-verbally, using these behaviours consciously is extremely powerful in any situation. For example, you might find your client in a stressed state, talking loudly and rapidly, with an upset tone of voice. Perhaps s/he is breathing heavily or sitting with their body slightly leaned forward. To work up rapport here you have several options: you can mirror their volume, pace, tone of voice, breathing or posture. If s/he is frowning or pointing with the finger while talking, you can repeat the same facial expression or gesture in your own communication. Three other useful non-verbal signals are eye contact, touch and proximity. Moreover, verbal mirroring is executed by repeating keywords or expressions. As words mean different things to different people, be sure to use the exact same words, not synonyms. You don’t want to confuse “happiness” with “freedom” to a person who rather connects it with “security”.

Don’t overdo it. That is to say, don’t go mirroring every little thing the other person is doing. If exaggerated your client will feel ridiculed and rapport will be lost (or worse; trust will be broken as well as the possibility for a future reciprocally beneficial relationship). What level of intensity that is just enough differs between people and even moods or states of being. Where rapport is present there is a sense of connection and a positive, confirmative feeling. If you get the mirroring just right your client will think: “Amazing, this person really gets me!”.

Go from following to leading

There is a simple trick that will reveal if your client is onboard or not. Hence, if you have rapport or if you don’t. Try this: After more than ten minutes of following your client’s verbal or non-verbal expressions, initiate a change in one of them. For example, try changing your posture by leaning backwards in your chair. If your client follows your movement and leans back, you know you have rapport.    

From the moment you have rapport two things will happen. One: your client will – if they haven’t already – start liking you (Yes, this method is also useful to develop a romantic relationship with someone, but that is a topic for another article). Two: S/he will start following. Consequently, you will gain the power to lead. Altering with flexibility between leading and following, you can then use the rapport to take your client where s/he needs to go to make progress. With a positive connection in your relationship and fruitful results, you have created the sustainability needed to transform your client into a returning customer. 


This final bonus article in the series Become a better seller with a relational approach have taught you to use rapport to make the relationship sustainable and transform your client into a returning customer

The author is Rebecca Bergsland; a professional coach and Business Communication Practitioner in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).

As the owner of Change Coaching & Consulting she is specialized in change processes, relations, and communication and is currently planning a new research project within the field of psychology.

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