The Importance of Rapport


The Importance of Rapport

Date: 12/14/2016

It’s cold today. Snow has fallen all day in our Illinois rental, causing me to bundle up a little bit more tightly as I sit at the computer and research new markets and write copy for clients. And while I’d rather sleep in and bundle up with some hot chocolate, I know that the bill collector waits for no one.

While working, I had the pleasure of listening to older episodes of the Pysch Insights for Modern Marketers. Psych insights is a podcast by John Carlton and Kevin Rogers. The episode of choice was all the way at the beginning – episode 1. The topic was “Con Men, Persuasion, Manipulation, Ethics…” . Basically, John Carlton’s rant on how us newbies don’t understand classic salesmanship. Some of it is

Basically, it’s John Carlton’s rant on how us newbies don’t understand classic salesmanship. One reason cited is that classic salesman… the hardcore, door-to-door kind who could talk his way out of anything…. hardly exist anymore. Another reason is simple ignorance on the part of us poor millennials.

John argued that if you know everything else but don’t know sales, you won’t succeed in business.

Remember, people are bored to tears in their daily life. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation”.

The pair also talked about:

  • Why copywriters should emulate P.T. Barnum if they want to be successful… and what kind of magazine every copywriter should fall in love with
  • The connection between Pandora’s Box and copywriting… and why we’re all Dorothy on the yellow brick road
  • The “transformational” power of that first check on the copywriter’s career

It got me thinking about a video I made the other day entitled, “The #1 Mistake You’re Making in Your Marketing”. Entrepreneurs aren’t selling in their marketing because they aren’t treating their marketing as a sales conversation.

What I’ve found is that entrepreneurs and marketers start their message at themselves and what they want to say, rather than starting with market research and what the buyer wants to hear.

Essentially, most modern marketing lacks rapport.

What is Rapport?

In Neuro-linguistic Programming, rapport is the act of getting in sync with the person you’re speaking with or writing to. This works because people like those like them. People respond better when they feel the other person “gets them” and is “on their wavelength”.

In NLP, rapport is built when two people are matched in:

  • Body stance
  • Gesticulations
  • Tone/volume of voice
  • Rate of speech
  • Word choice
  • Rate of breathing
  • Modality (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)
  • Push/pull (are you an avoider or a pursuer?)
  • Common experiences/interests/backgrounds

In therapeutic settings, rapport is built so that the therapist can then lead the patient toward a new mental model. Until that rapport is built, the individual’s defenses are up and their mind is sealed as tight as a trap box.

Here’s a video to help you learn more about rapport, if you’re interested in that sort of thing:


How does Rapport help the Sales Process?

Rapport breaks down the barriers so that two individuals trust each other. And trust is the key component in sales. You know this to be true because it’s how you determine who to buy from based on trust. Recommendations and referrals work so well because you trust the word of the person doing the referring. Their credibility is transferred to the person being referred.

The same thing applies to “proof” measures such as writing a book, landing an article or guest post in a magazine or other credible publication, or having testimonials and case studies which match the buyer’s situation.

Your job as a salesperson is to

  1. Capture your buyer’s attention with language they resonate with
  2. Build rapport so that you gain trust
  3. Figure out what the individual wants most
  4. Get the individual’s image of themselves, their problem, and your solution to align with what you offer
  5. Sell the thing

It’s a push-pull sort of thing. Remember that you’re on one side of the table and your buyer is on the other. How do you get your buyer to your side of the table?

The first step, I believe, is rapport and empathy. You want your buyer to truly believe that you understand her and have her best interests at heart.

Copywriting is Salesmanship in Print

If you believe, as I do, that copywriting is “salesmanship in print”, then it’s imperative that you learn how to sell. At the end of the day, our measuring stick as copywriters is whether or not our ads convert. Whether that “conversion” is from prospect to buyer (a sale) or browser to audience member (email opt-in), the goal is still conversion. As a direct response copywriter, your sole job is to write ads (landing pages, PPC ads, insert ads, emails, sales letters) that convert.

You’ve got to be able to sell.

I shouldn’t feel surprised at t his point, honsetly, but it always amazes me when I see entrepreneurs who do everything but sell in their copy. They’ll educate, sure. Yet when it comes time to sell they shy away and practically apologize for having to ask for money. It’s flabberasting. Don’t be that guy.

How to Build Rapport in your Copy

So how do you build rapport in copy? There are three main methods. I’ll briefly describe each in this post. There are people who specialize in each of these so I’m not going to rehash a ton here.

Create vivid imagery that matches where the buyer is now

The first thing you’ve got to do is create vivid imagery that matches where the buyer is now. In your headline, you’re going to have to do more than bore them to death. For most buyers, the direct offer of “Get My Widget for $50 Off!” won’t work. You’ve got to woo her a little bit. What does she wake up wanting – and can you describe that in a sentence?

How anxious women overcome their fear of rejection and immediately begin selling like a seasoned pro… without sleazy tactics, expensive funnels, or cold calling

Your description of the problem and your buyer’s current situation must match what’s already in her head. One example I saw recently that jarred me was an author who discussed a “nightmare story” where he lived off his credit cards for a year. Now, I’m in student loan debt up to my ocean blue eyeballs. I would love to be able to live off my credit cards and have that kind of cushion. But I don’t. So his “worst case” scenario didn’t at all resonate with me. (For great examples of nightmare stories, look at stuff written by Jon Benson or Chris Haddad. They are bad asses at it.)

The better you’re able to describe the problem as your buyer experiences it, the more rapport you’ll build. They’ll think, “This person gets it! YES! I’ve thought that so many times.”

Ramit Sethi actually uses that sentiment as a test of the copy his team produces. Do readers respond with “that’s exactly what I’ve thought?” If yes, then they know they’ve nailed down the buyer language.

The next step is to be able to define their ideal situation as your buyer sees it. So, don’t sell the life on the beach if the buyer just wants to be able to quit his day job. Again, you’ll attract more people by creating visually enticing and emotionally stimulating scenarios than if you focus only on features and services.

Use a story that the buyer can relate to

Another way to quickly capture your reader is through a story. John Carlton is the master at weaving stories in from headline to close. (Many of his headlines are a mini 3-part story, for example.) He’s careful to craft stories that buyers can identify with. Often, he’ll go even further than matching and create a guy who’s more brokemore desperatemore handicapped than the buyer is. The question then becomes “if it worked for that guy who’s 10X worse off, it should definitely work for me!”

Jon Benson did the same thing in one of his weight loss VSLs. He described how he literally stole junk food from a gas station in order to fuel his late-night binge. Now, most of us have never stolen food to fuel our cravings. So even overweight individuals would shake their head, knowing that this guy really had it bad. Their usual defenses of “this won’t work for me” begin to fade as they compare their plight to the obviously worse-off story subject.

Use a mix of modalities unless you’re sure that your buyer mainly uses one modality

When you create these stories, be sure to watch the language you use. That is, listen for key modality differences and make sure you’re mixing it up.

In your copy, you want to use an even mix of words, phrases, and cliches that fall in line with:

  • Visual (see, sight, colors, clarity, etc)
  • Auditory (hear, sound, listen)
  • Kinesthetic (feel, touch, move, push, pull, etc)
  • Neutral (believe, learn, discover)

Your story should hit all of the senses. You the copywriter likely have one sense you rely on more than others. If your buyer (or client, for that matter) prefers a different sense, how well do you think your copy will resonate. Not well is the answer! Vary the modalities so your copy resonates with everyone. I like to do an editing pass after I’m done and point out places where a modality-specific verb or phrase would be a better fit.

That’s all I have for today. Remember – rapport is the first step to sales. And copywriting is just sales performed en masse.

Until next time,

Lynn signature

PS – Did you find this helpful or informative? Do you have questions? Want to rant about this topic? I welcome feedback! Please a) comment below and b) share it with those in your circle who’d benefit.

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