Experts Explain How to Build Rapport With a Sales Prospect
Business - Expert Roundups - Marketing

10 Experts Explain How to Build Rapport With a Sales Prospect

Most sales don’t happen overnight, especially if they’re large purchases or B2B deals. They often require you to educate your prospects on your product or service while simultaneously building a relationship with them. Rapport usually takes time to develop, but with practice, you can speed up the process.

Many people will match and mirror the physiological aspects of a person’s behavior when they engage in conversation. The next time you go to a bar, or have coffee with someone, pay attention to how often each of you takes a sip of your drink. If you’re in rapport, it’s very likely that you’ll drink at a similar cadence, and may even lift your glasses almost simultaneously. The same can be said for hand gestures, speech intonation, the words we use, and even the way we breath.

For some people, this happens naturally. Others of us have to work at it, to the point where we’re hyper-focused on people’s word choices during a conversation, in order to “speak in their language.” Matching someone’s physiology is a lesson for another time. For now, there are some wonderful tools you can use to build rapport with your sales prospects.

To help you develop the best ways to build rapport during a sales meeting, we asked marketing professionals and sales managers for their best insights. Ideas include everything from asking about where the person lives, to showing that you understand their needs and pain points. There are several ways to build rapport quickly during a conversation, in order to get people to open up and engage with you and your brand.

Try these 10 ways these experts build rapport with sales prospects:

Ask About Where the Person Lives

I kick off every Zoom call with a simple question: “So, where in the world are you?” Establishing geography is an easy way to ease into a conversation, and get to know the person you’re speaking with just a little bit better. You’re able to break the ice with a quick comment about the weather differences, time zone changes, or share a story about a time either of you visited the location. Either way, I love asking this question in every conversation to help build rapport with prospects.

Brett Farmiloe, Terkel

Brett Farmiloe, Terkel
Brett Farmiloe, Terkel

Find Out About Their Hobbies

When you’re talking to a sales prospect, try asking them about their favorite hobbies. People love talking about themselves, and it can be a great way to build rapport. Ask them questions and become genuinely interested. You can even share a few of your own hobbies as well. This can help you both feel more comfortable with each other, which can be a great way to start a successful business relationship. If you can achieve this, you’re on the right track to building a long-term, mutually beneficial connection.

Matthew Ramirez, Paraphrase Tool

Take Your Time With Your Prospect

The ideal scenario is that you find a sales prospect, start a conversation, be charming and convincing and quickly close the deal. The reality, however, is that you need to be, first and foremost, patient. Be a good listener, talk with the potential client instead of at them, and try your best to be empathetic. Think about the client first, not the product. More often than not, they will notice your effort and answer in kind.

Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD

Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD
Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD

Try Not to Sound or Appear too Formal

All too often salespeople tend to act overly formal in a sales situation. I am by no means inferring that you should not handle yourself as a professional, but instead of putting on this “facade” so to speak, be genuine with your presentation. Ask them questions other than “How’s your day been?”; questions that may catch them off guard like “What’s one thing you’re grateful for?” It is when a salesperson is too formal that they come across as cliché. Treating them like you’ve known them for a period of time establishes this silent trust that can make it easier to ask for a close.

Isaac Mashman, Mashman Ventures

Find Common Ground to Start a Conversation

One way to quickly build rapport with a sales prospect is to find common ground. This could involve talking about shared interests, experiences, or goals. Establishing common ground helps create a sense of trust and understanding between you and the prospect, making it more likely that they’ll be interested in what you have to say.

Adil Advani, Stream Digitally

Be Friendly

Initiate a casual talk as a starter. Strike a positive conversation. Try to get to know your prospect on a personal level. Ask them where they live, do they have kids, and if they have pets. These are the best conversation warmers. Then you can use “happy” words. It will make them more comfortable and at ease. Pay attention to what they are saying. Take note of their interests. As you go along, you can build a connection and bond with them. Rapport can pave the way for a more fruitful and lasting relationship. It is something that can even transcend the professional transaction between you. To put it simply, you can become friends more than them being your clients.

Laura Martinez, PersonalityMax

Ask a Question and Move on From There

My personal favorite way to build rapport quickly is with a question. I find that asking a prospect about their business and their goals can go a long way to building trust and rapport with them because when you’re showing that you’re interested in what they have to say. It’s also a great way to get the ball rolling on a conversation since it gives you an opening to ask more questions once they’ve answered yours.

Tiffany Homan, Texas Divorce Laws

Be Truthful With Anything You Present

As a sales person, be always truthful with your prospects. If your product will have some negative side effects or some traits that may be undesirable to some people, let them know that. This may seem like a bad thing to do in terms of making sales but instead, in being truthful you win the trust of your prospective. Even when one may not be able to buy your products, they will be won by your truth and will end up being an ambassador to others that may not be affected by the negative aspect of your product.

Yongming Song, Imgkits- Photo Editor

Find a Way to Get the Prospect to Relax

When you’re faced with an initially unwilling customer, you will need to keep trying to establish a rapport. Before you get into your pitch, find something – anything – that will get the customer relaxed and talking. Find something about him or her that you can relate to. Whether you’re selling a diamond-in-the-rough stock or aluminum siding, don’t give up on the warm-up. You won’t get anywhere without pitching a lead and you won’t get anywhere trying to pitch a lead with someone who hasn’t been softened and charmed a bit by a warm-up conversation. Look at that person’s LinkedIn or Facebook page. Do a background check. If it’s a face-to-face meeting, ask about something on the wall of that person’s office. Do whatever you need to do to get that customer engaged. A good warm-up is vital.

Nick Oberheiden, Oberheiden

Show that You Understand Their Needs and Pain Points

To win over your prospects, it is important to show them they’re not just a number, but that you truly care, and understand their pain points. One way to do this is by utilizing intent data. These are behavioral signals that let you know what your prospects are interested in or seeking answers to, and how ready they are to purchase your product or service–it is collected based on your prospect’s web content consumption. 

By leveraging these data insights, you’ll be able to personalize your interactions and provide solutions to their pain points. By doing so, you’ll be able to establish rapport quickly. Intent data helps you interact with your prospective clients from the point of “I know you have this problem, here’s how we can help you, and here are some extra resources to read to get ahead.”

Rachael Bassey, Terkel

Dennis Consorte helps startups and small cap public companies make an impact through digital marketing, publicity, and team building.