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The Art Of Maintaining Boundaries In Rapport

Jan 19, 2008
"It is the business of thought to define things, to find the boundaries; thought, indeed, is a ceaseless process of definition. It is the business of art to give things shape." -Vance Palmer

Rapport is one of the most important aspects in persuasive sales. It's mandatory to achieve and its benefits are innumerable. And yet, rapport has its downside. I learned this early on, and it wasn't an easy lesson.

I used to sell encyclopedias when I was young, and I would go into a person's home, and I would sit down and I would get in rapport with them. I would learn about their family, about their little kids, about all the stuff that was going on in their house.

One of the visits I made was in Washington, in a little town that was having some difficult times financially. I had no idea about the depressed economy before I started working the area, and by the time I had figured it out, I had booked a room and made the travel plans, etc. so I had to make some sales. It wasn't easy to get the appointments, that's for sure. And when I finally did have a sit down with a prospect and gain that rapport, I'd eventually get to the big question: 'Do you see the value in what I've shown you so far?'

'Yeah, oh, yeah, I see the value, these are really great books.'

'Can you see how our question answering service will help your children with any questions they need help with? This will help with not only their reports, but with the education overall. And couldn't you see yourself using these encyclopedias too?'

'Oh, yeah, I'd love to use this, I think my kids would really benefit.'

'Fabulous. Well then, why don't we get you started?'

'Well, you see, we'd like to, but with the mill closing' and they'd go into their sad story.

And by the time we got to the end of their story, I was in such deep rapport with this guy that I was almost in tears.

'Of course, I understand. You know, we can always come back at some later time in the future, we'll be able to come in when you do have some money, when you're able to get back to work.'

I did this day, after day. Until I realized, all of a sudden, I think this is hurting me. What I finally did, one day, is I didn't have as much rapport, or so I thought, didn't have nearly as much, but they liked the materials so well and even though they didn't have the money, they said they were going to go ahead and buy it.

After they'd bought it, they told me their sad story about how the mill had closed, and how they weren't working, but their kids were so important to them that even though they didn't have the money, their kids were most important and they were going to do it, anyway.

This was a revelation for me to hear. Despite their unemployment, they were not going to allow them to suffer because of their financial situation, and they would do whatever it took in order to get their kids the education they needed.

What this story does illustrate is that I realized if you jump into rapport with somebody and get in there really deep, and you forget about your outcome, then what happens is you become putty in their hands, instead of the other way around. We want the affluent to be putty in our hands.

Keep this in mind: maintain your outcome, your intention, what it is that you want to have happen and set that strongly in your mind no matter what they have to say to you.

Intention is what makes these skills so powerful. Your intention is not to make new friends, your intention is to sell.

Think about this before each and every sales interaction: what is your intention?
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies to earn the business of wealthy prospects using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion strategies.
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