The farmer, it appears, must not be approached too abruptly. If you are to get his money you must break the news to him gently. You should first talk about horses, soil, and market conditions. This conversation will show that you are interested in things close to him and likewise give you a chance to study his temperament and to learn his likes and dislikes, and discover his weaknesses.
—Clarence Darrow in The American Mercury in 1925 writing about the topic of “Salesmanship”
The concepts of rapport building and personal likeability are not new. You can find book after book written from the 1920s onward that will teach you techniques for building rapport. For example, you might be told to look around the potential buyer’s office and talk about what you see. “Ah, I see you have a big fish on your wall. Are you a fishing enthusiast? I go trout fishing all the time in Wyoming. Let’s talk about trout.” Unfortunately, many people today, both buyers and sellers, equate the concept of rapport building with this type of contrived chitchat.
Rapport building is not the planned buttering up of the buyer before a salesperson moves in for the kill. The mind-set behind this approach to rapport building is underhanded and sneaky. Our emphatic response to this approach: Don’t do it.
Yet the fundamental underlying need for a buyer to connect with a seller—or at least to generally like him or her—exists and must be attended to. At least, it must if you want to generate new business ...