Rapport is About Listening to Their Words

Recently, I was coaching a sales person who could not understand why she was losing so many sales opportunities. She explained to me how see used the same sales process, basically the same techniques and methods, yet, she had major differences in her sales results.

Then she said the major words relative to her issue. She stated that sometimes everything flowed with no issues, while on other occasions – she felt a block to anything she said or the prospect would just look at her as if she was speaking a foreign language. This is important part. Even if you are both speaking the same language, if you using difference representational systems there can be total misunderstandings.

Here is what I’m talking about. People have three primary representational systems – visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Actually there are two others, yet, there are rare except for certain jobs. Getting back on track here, if you are speaking in visual terms and the other person is auditory – you can be mismatching and yes, you will have difficulty in understanding what is being said.

There are two primary methods to discover which representational systems are being used.  

  1. The Eye Movement will tell you exactly how a person thinks.
  2. Listening to the Words being used.

I will address the eye movement recognition in a latter sales tips since I need to design some visuals for you. Yet, the listening part is the topic for today.

It is time to show you the difference or tell you how the words sound so you can get a feel for their effect. There is an example of all three modalities in one sentence. Okay, more examples by category…


Customer says… “That’s not clear.” ;”I see the picture now.”; “I will look into the issue”; “Let me show you the problem.”

You could be saying…“I see what you mean”; “Let me shed some light on this”; “Without a shadow of doubt”; “Future looks bright”; or “Let’s focus on the problem.”


Customer says… “That sounds odd to me” ; “This rings true for me” ; “it sounds good to me”; “Can we fine tune this?”

You could be saying… “That rings a bell” ; “In a manner of speaking”; “This is unheard of”; “I can’t hear myself think.”


Customer says… “That doesn’t fit” ; “This feels strange to me” ; “We need to get a handle on this issue”; “Can hold on?”

You could be saying… “What a solid foundation to start” ; “Can you embrace this offering”; “Hold on a Second”; “I can’t put my finger on it yet.”; “I can grab a few minutes and get back to you.”

The important thing is to first know your primary and secondary representational system – mine is kinesthetic and visual. Then listen to the words and phrases your customer or prospect uses when asking your questions. Make a note of the pattern of the system usage – which becomes more important as you learn how to use this properly. Then flex your word and phrase usage to match your customer or prospect.

You will be speaking the same language – you on purpose and the customer naturally. The benefits you get for exercising this choice is improved rapport with the other person, more objective discussions (without the corporate speak) and getter trust and credibility granted to you by the other person.

The choice to use this really up to you. The benefits and improvement in effective communication can increase your opportunities without any tricky or misleading statements or tactics. Trust and honesty rule with greater rapport. Try it, you will like it.

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Voss Graham

Sr Business Advisor / CEO at InnerActive Consulting Group Inc
Your Knowledgeable Partner for Business Success and Achievement. Dedicated to helping others get to their next level of success. Award winning business advisor; coach to executives and business owners; Business Growth Strategist; and experienced using assessments for hiring & selection, evaluation of teams and improving communication. Voss is available as a Speaker for your conferences or company meetings contact him at 901-757-4434 or use the LinkedIn or Facebook direct messages.

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