Step 7. Establish trust and rapport

Robert DeGroot, M.Ed. D.C.H.

Nothing works without some level of trust and rapport. The most common methods of establishing trust and rapport are listed below.

Trust: Belief without proof

Rapport: To be in harmony, on the same wave length, in step with the other person

Methods to establish Trust and Rapport include:

1. Identifying a Common Ground

2. Pacing and Leading

3. Using Credentials

4. Establishing Psychological Truth

5. Mind Set

1. Common Ground

Find something you share in common with the other person.

To use the Common Ground method of establishing trust and rapport you simply interact with the customer using small talk to discover what you both have in common. This common ground becomes your connecting link upon which to break the ice and build rapport.

Common ground can be anything that you share together. It can be anything that you are both interested in. It doesn't have to be product or service related. It doesn't have to be of great importance. You do, however, want to start with "safe" obvious links and avoid controversial topics.

Rapport building goes on throughout the sales process. This helps to strengthen your relationship. Although you will cross the personal and business relationship boundaries, care should be taken to ensure that you don't violate them.

Topics that can be used initially to establish a common ground are such things as the weather, distance from work, traffic, current events, education, people you know in common and other similar areas. Any thin thread of common experiences will accomplish the objective. Over time, with frequent interactions, you will continue to find more areas that you share in common and thus strengthen the bond of trust.

2. Pacing and Leading

To get in step with the other person in behavior, speech, dress and mannerisms.

This quick method to establish very deep trust and rapport is based on the neuro-linguistic programming method of pacing.

Pacing is identifying what the other person is doing and stating your observation as in, I see you are reading this information about pacing. It is the process of matching or mirroring your prospect. If, for example, you are a fast walker and your client is slow, unless you change your pace to match his or hers you will soon be walking alone. The person who wants the conversation to occur must be the one who initially paces the other.

Specific areas to pace both verbal and non-verbal include:

1. Language and speech - rate, tone, volume

2. Dress

3. Posture

4. Manners and social skills

5. Emotions - type, intensity, empathy

During actual conversations, where two or more people are psychologically in tune and connected, who leads and who paces will change from person to person in a natural rhythm.

3. Credentials

Credentials tell prospects that you are a professional with knowledge and experience that can be applied toward helping them meet the challenges they face.

Credentials build positive expectations. Simply by knowing that you are working with a skilled professional helps build confidence and positive expectations that a successful outcome will be achieved.

Credentials build credibility. Track records, testimonials, references, direct referrals and client lists make a statement about who you are, company capabilities, and the levels of your standards.

The "corporate image" brochure is designed to help build credibility and should be used, not to sell products/services, but rather to sell your company's credibility.

Credentials build power. Few people go to those who appear to be weaker than they are for help. We usually seek out strong and powerful people to help us get what we need.

Trust is passed between you and your company. If prospects trust you, then they will most likely transfer that trust to your company. The reverse is also true.

4. Psychological Truth

Communicate your understanding of the prospect's situation in order to establish your right to speak and be heard.

Psychological Truth: "If we sincerely try to understand another person's point of view, then they become psychologically obligated to try to understand ours."

People with problems will continue to talk until they feel that you have clearly understood them and the situation in which they find themselves.

The primary means to establish psychological truth is through the use of "active listening skills."

With the prospect now psychologically obligated to listen, you have a power you did not have before. This power will help to prevent reflexive type objections.

5. Mind-Set

When contacting prospects, if your mind-set is to get them to buy from you because you want a commission, then your insincerity will show through. You may even try to get them to buy something whether they need it your not. This will not provide you with a long-term repeat business customer.

Your mind-set must be on helping your prospects meet their needs through the use of your products/services.

All businesses have four basic needs:

Focus your thoughts on how you have successfully helped your other customers meet these needs. Therefore, what you have to communicate is critically important to the prospect's ability to meet these needs. It's important!

Keep these thoughts in mind when you prospect. The prospect will know if you're out to try to get them to buy something or if you're out to try to help them meet one or more of their four critical business needs listed above.


1. Use a referral whenever possible as the trust in the referring party goes with you, temporarily.
2. Let the prospect know that you have worked with companies similar to his.
3. Let the prospect know about your background so he/she can get comfortable with you and the direction you're coming from.
4. Use your printed literature to help establish credibility.


2. Objection of the Month

Objection: My boss won't authorize anything.

When? Early closing after presentation.

Probable Cause [Missing Buyer Belief]: Buyer does not believe he/she has authority.

Objective: Identify people who play the various decision making roles.

Prevention Strategies

1. Multiple decision makers

A. Identify from your lead source (i.e., referral, directory, etc.) who most likely (by title) would be in each of the different decision making roles. See your Profile of accounts for this particular market segment and size company to identify high potential decision makers.

B. During your initial contact with the receptionist, ask who are the people who would make decisions about those products/services that are used in ... (specify area). Ask about typically involved decision makers (profile). Ask, who would make the decisions about performance specifications. Who would decide the necessary level of return on investment before a product/service could be pre-approved for purchasing to order?

C. When closing out this step in the call say, "I guess one of our next steps will have to be to make sure we do a thorough cost justification so that we can support your efforts with your management, what will be the approval process for this type of project?"

Response Strategies

1. "That I understand, my boss won't either, unless I have some pretty strong cost justification for at least reviewing a project, is that about where he/she is?"

2. "I can certainly understand how you feel, I'm in the same boat, but if this makes sense and we can cost justify it, what other information do you think we need to take it to the next step?"

3. "Won't authorize anything?" (Clarify the circumstances under which authorization can be obtained.)

Please let us know about any other ways you prevent or respond this objection.

Thanks for your support.

Sales Process Analyst Team

Dr. Bob DeGroot

© 2000 Sales Training International