You Had Me at Hello

One Chance to Make a First Impression

You only have one chance to make a first impression. And it’s really important in sales that the impression you make is a good one. People buy from people they like.

If you’re like me, you may have had the experience of going to a store to buy something you wanted only to leave without it because of a poor salesperson. Maybe they were rude, perhaps they seemed untrustworthy, maybe they were lacking knowledge. Whatever the case, you probably summed them up pretty quickly based on your first impression.  Customers make 80% of their buying decisions within the first 45 seconds of meeting you.

Did you know that customers make 80% of their buying decisions within the first 45 seconds of meeting you?

In sales, you’re not only selling the product you’re also selling yourself. Learning how to build your value so that customers will buy from you is as important, if not more important, then learning to build value in the product.

Make a Connection

There are several ways to build rapport. One of the most effective ways is to find common ground with someone. With a little practice, you can find common ground with virtually everyone. For example….

For example….

  • This person loves to knit ….. I’ve never done it but my mother makes some amazing things. (we both appreciate the art of knitting)
  • This person is a huge soccer fan…. I love downhill skiing  ( we’re both sports fans)
  • This person is from Ohio …. My roommate in college was from Ohio ( we both know people from Ohio)
  • This person collects socks from the Civil War …. Hey I’m wearing socks (we both like socks)

An easy way to quickly establish rapport on the phone is to ask the person where they are calling from. But what if you’ve never been there or don’t know anyone from there? How could you make a connection?

Here are two methods

Customer: “I’m from Idaho….”

Salesperson: “wow I have never been there…I’m from Maine have you ever been here?”

Method 1:If they say “Yes”  then you have a connection! You’ve both been to Maine

Method 2:If they say “No” then you have a connection! Neither of you has been to the state the other is from.

It may seem like a stretch, but it really doesn’t take much to find a connection and some common ground. It just takes a little practice. It is important to always be truthful in your connections. Don’t make something up. It can be discovered and will damage your rapport and trust immediately and irreversibly.


Mirror your customerAnother excellent way to build rapport is to mirror the customer. Most of us make a quick connection with other people who are similar to us. If we’re loud talkers and we run into someone who is also a loud talker we feel comfortable right away. On the other hand, if we’re a soft talker and we run into someone that’s a loud talker we can feel pretty uncomfortable.  One of the very best ways to connect and build rapport with your customer is to mirror them.

It’s important to note that mirroring is not imitating. Imitating could upset your customer and ruin your rapport. Mirroring is more like matching your customer’s communication style.

Some easy ways to mirror your customer….

  • Listen to their pace….are they fast or slow. Work to match your pace to theirs
  • Listen to their tone… are they loud or soft, high or low?
  • Listen to their phrasing…..if they say I’d like to look this over, using phrases back like “I see what you mean” helps make a connection.

If they say, “this sounds pretty good”, you might use a phrase like “I hear what you’re saying” Etc…


To be successful in sales you have to develop your ability to build personal trust and value . Rapport helps you build trust and you can make a connection with virtually any customer by finding common ground, mirroring and being personable. Remember that rapport is so important the outcome of most customer interactions can be made or lost in the first 45 seconds.



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