When you first become a salesperson, your initial training is likely to involve lots of talk about building rapport. Good rapport with customers makes closing a deal significantly easier, and can sometimes even be more important than features or price. But there is no magic bullet when it comes to building rapport, and there are some people who just won’t click with each other.

On the flip side, there are plenty of things you can do to kill rapport with customers, and many salespeople do these things regularly. Spiro can’t help you build rapport, but we can help you identify who to reach and when. Here are ten ways to quickly kill rapport with your customers:

1. Talking too much

Talking too much is a great way to kill rapport. Customers love it when the salesperson rambles on and on endlessly instead of giving them the chance to talk about their problems. We talk about the importance of listening a lot on this blog, so let’s move on.

2. Saying their name too much

While some sales trainers make the case that saying a customer’s name helps with rapport building, there’s very little evidence that doing so over and over again won’t have the opposite effect. Repeating a customer’s name over and over again is actually quite patronizing, and comes off as disingenuous. Say it once, and then just stop. Please..

3. Trying too hard to be relatable

Finding common ground is a well-known rapport-building strategy, but it can also be taken too far. If you try to relate to every single thing the customer says, they’ll see right through you. Relate where you can, but don’t jump in after every single thing they say with “Me too!”

4. Bringing up taboo subjects

Even if you’re against being politically correct, don’t try to prove it to your customer by bringing up taboo subjects such as politics, sex, or any other controversial subjects. Of course, if a customer steers the conversation that way, then it’s not entirely unacceptable to engage them, but always take a neutral stance since you never know how your point of view will come off.

5. Making things up

Don’t make up stories to try to build rapport, because the chances of it backfiring are way too high. Some salespeople think they can build rapport by telling a customer that they’re from the same town or like the same movies, but if the customer digs deeper and you can’t back up your story, your rapport will be DOA, along with your deal.

6. Not keeping your word

A great way to kill rapport is to not do what you say you’re going to do. Whether it’s call a customer back at a certain time, or get an answer that you promised, keeping your word is one of the best ways to build trust and rapport. Always make it a personal rule to never say something that you don’t have 100% intentions of following through on, and success will follow.

7. Selling past the close

Selling past the close is when the customer has already agreed to the deal but you keep pitching. This is a rapport-killer because not only is it entirely unnecessary and counter-productive, but it makes the customer think that you have something to hide, because why would someone keep selling after you’ve already agreed to give them your business otherwise?

8. Assuming anything

Don’t. Ever. Assume. Anything. About. The. Customer. Unless a customer comes out and tells you something, you should never guess or assume it unless you want to eviscerate any rapport you’ve built. This is especially true with things like relationships, race/religion, and pregnancy (!).

9. Rushing the conversation

All salespeople are busy. It always seems like there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done that we need to, but that’s not an excuse to rush through a conversation with a prospect. Trying to fast-track a discussion will only turn the customer off and make rapport building more difficult. There’s an old expression in sales, “Slow down to speed up.”

10. Trying to be someone you’re not

At it’s core, rapport building involves authenticity, so when you try to be someone that you’re not in front of the customer, you can bet you’ll fail to build any genuine rapport. Always be yourself, because acting the way you think you’re supposed to will only make you come off as an actor to the customer, which is exactly how to not win their business.

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About the Author Ken Kupchik

Ken Kupchik is the creator of Sales Humor and the author of the funniest sales book ever written, The Sales Survival Handbook, which you can order on Amazon.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


  • ivy1221 says:

    Great list! I work in sales management and what I see the most are talking too much and rushing the customer. New sellers are excited to share what they know and this leads to confusion for the customer. Tenured sellers were either never corrected on this or do it out of an insecurity whether it be assuming the customer doesn’t want to buy or some other belief they’ve crafted for themselves.

    On the flip side, Sellers that rush the customer don’t always realize it. Its cause they’re focused on the sale and the customer can tell. An easy fix is adding in some positive statements or reassurance about the situation then trying to move.

    Spot on article!
    My blog: PlayEatWork.com

  • Great post, Ken! I love tip #2, this is very true! A a buyer myself, I wouldn’t find it nice to hear my name in every sentence that you’d say. Just to know that you know my name at the beginning of our conversation and maybe by the end is enough.

    Brooke Harper

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