Skip to main content

Building Rapport with WIIFO, not WIIFM

high stakes consultative dialogues webinar

richardsonsalestraining26 May 2015Blog

Share on LinkedInShare on TwitterShare on Facebook

Salespeople can spend a lot of time on the road, travelling to meetings or client presentations. Thoughts naturally wander to internal dialogue: “How am I going to meet my goals?” or, “What’s in it for me?” — known as the shorthand, WIIFM.

When you get stuck in WIIFM, you’re not as “other” oriented as you should be. Building rapport is much easier and successful when you focus on what’s in it for others (WIIFO).

In conversation, focusing too much on your own thoughts and what you’ll say next stands in the way of personal connection and rapport. It is better to come to the discussion well versed on the area that you’re addressing and then to have that conversation with a nonjudgmental, open mind.

Consider the Buddhist parable of the empty cup. You can come into a conversation so full of information that nothing more gets in, just as pouring tea into an already full cup causes it to spill over. But, if you are ready to listen, becoming an “empty cup,” you can receive more than you came with.

Building Rapport with an Open Mind

Building rapport happens when there’s real openness about what is actually going on in the moment between you and the other person. You’re not talking to an organisation, but an individual — a person, a human being — who is largely an emotional being. So, if you’re not connecting at an emotional level, which is beyond the realm of words and thoughts, you might be too focused on yourself.

Empathy and compassion are important in building rapport in today’s fast-paced world. People can feel when you’re being authentic and trying to connect with them. Instead of focusing just on your own agenda, think about the other person’s agenda. You have to be self-aware and then be “other” aware.

At Richardson Sales Performance, we teach rapport as a blend of art and science. You can see the energy flowing when participants practise skills like body language, especially when modelling “matching” behaviour. If this sounds too touchy-feeling to you, think about neuro-linguistic programming, a field that involves the connection of thought processes, language and behaviours.

On a more basic level, rapport is an awareness of the other person’s communication style and then being sensitive to it. If someone is a fast or slow talker, match his/her speed. Otherwise, you could either overwhelm the person or cause him/her to tune out. When you smile, be sincere — use your mouth and your eyes to express yourself. The passion of your speech and spirit of your conviction make your intent visible to the other person.

As with any aspect of the sales dialogue, being skilled at building rapport takes forethought and practise. The goal is to create a connection and build on it in a way that is concise and genuine. This can happen in the first two to ten minutes or more, depending on the client, the situation and the culture. Regardless of how much time it takes, it’s worth it to make the effort to differentiate yourself and create a personal connection.

Share on LinkedInShare on TwitterShare on Facebook
consultative sales training program

Consultative Selling Training Programme Brochure

Learn about building the foundational selling skills needed to improve the performance of your entire team.


Resources You Might Be Interested In

agile selling skills

Brief: How Agile Sales Professionals Use Sprints to Target, Message, and Engage Prospects

Download this brief to learn how Sprint Prospecting™ enables agility that quickly gets to the core of the customer’s needs.


evidence-based solution selling training for healthcare

Brief: Engaging Healthcare Professionals with Agile Messaging

Discover three ways sellers can deliver meaningful messaging to HCPs to gain access while staying in compliance.


richardson sales performance and training company

White Paper: Accessing Growth with Sprint Prospecting

Download the White Paper, Accessing Growth with Sprint Prospecting, we offer a new set of skills designed to earn the customer’s attention.

White Paper

Solutions You Might Be Interested In