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“What is rapport?” The French originated the word rapport, meaning “to bring or offer back.” However, the French use the word most often in the phrase en rapport avec, meaning “to be in connection with someone.” How often have you been advised to build rapport with a prospect to increase your chances of closing the sale? Were you instructed to match & mirror as a means of building rapport?

When mirroring, the similarities in our non-verbal gestures causes the other party to relax, lower the psychological barriers between us and feel more connected to us. They feel comfortable and trust us.

I’m a strong proponent of:
• People who are like one another, tend to like one another
• People who like one another, tend to trust one another
• People tend to do business with people they trust

So, if people like and trust us, they should be ready to do business with us, right? Matching & mirroring should solve all our sales problems, right?


By that, I mean it’s great to be able to mirror someone’s behaviour to make them feel comfortable and trust us, but then what? Why did you have a meeting with this person in the first place? Was it to sell a product or idea? If so, how do you move from the safe, comfortable conversation to motivating them to say “I’m ready to get on board”.

I was recently reading a blog post on this very topic “Don’t Just Match the Style – Motivate the Style by Markku Kauppinen, of Extended DISC NA. Markku advises using a 3 “m” approach: match, mirror and motivate. Matching and mirroring is how you communicate. Motivate is what you communicate.

For example, if you are in front of a business prospect who is an extrovert; chatty, expressive, and outgoing, typically he or she will be motivated by recognition and visibility. They will be de-motivated by loss of influence, routine and formality. Recognizing what motivates or de-motivates your prospect brings your closer to achieving your goal.

Similarly, if your prospect is more of a direct communicator (tough, impatient and decisive), they are motivated by achievement, control and power; getting results from their own actions. If your style is precise, analytical and highly detailed, you’ll frustrate your client, if you stay in your comfort zone of giving detailed information, giving them time to think and decide. Don’t let your comfort style demotivate the person you’re trying to influence.

The clients who typically attend my Communicate with Confidence workshops are well aware of the matching and mirroring principal. For the most part, they are able to execute this behaviour quite successfully and engage in meaningful conversations with other business people, be they colleagues, customers or prospects. It’s the next stage where they struggle. Motivating the other person to take their recommended action is where they often need that extra boost.

I encourage you to think back to a recent, non-essential purchase that you made. What did the sales person say (or do) that resulted in you purchasing something that you really didn’t need? Chances are, while that sales professional was building a rapport with you, he or she was learning more about your behaviour style and how he/she could motivate you to buy, without seeming pushy or forceful. And you bought the item, didn’t you?

The next time you’re trying to influence, or sell an idea, consider the 3m approach. It’s important to match and mirror to build rapport. But remember your purpose and desired outcome. Motivate the individual to commit to action.

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