The ability to build rapport with customers and prospects is vitally important. Why? Because if you have rapport with your customers, they are more likely to trust you, listen to you and communicate openly with you. This in turn enables you to interact more comfortably and work more effectively together. We instantly move from “adversaries” to “symbiotic partners.”

Rapport dramatically increases your chances of winning a sale. Having rapport means that when there are tough issues to discuss (for example, price increases) you can more easily find agreement and solutions and then move on.

Robert Birdwhistle, who researched communication in the 1970s, studied how face-to-face communication was received and responded to. His work suggests that your impact depends on three factors: how you look, how you sound and what you say. According to Birdwhistle, 55 percent of communication is body language, 38 percent the quality of the voice and only 7 percent the actual words spoken.

Rapport involves being able to see eye-to-eye with other people, connecting on their wavelength. So much (93 percent) of the perception of your sincerity comes not from what you say but how you say it, and how you show an appreciation for the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

When you are in rapport with someone, you can disagree with what they say and still relate respectfully with him or her. The important point to remember is to acknowledge other people for the unique individuals that they are. Rapport can be described as when two people are like each other, they like each other.

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of the JF Corp. and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit http://www.topsalesworld.com/, or go to his blog at http://www.thejfblogit.co.uk/.