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How to Build Rapport in Sales: The Easy Guide


June 16th, 2023

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Few things are more important to the sales process, than learning how to build rapport. Effective sales are all about harnessing the power of human-to-human relationships. People are more likely to spend money based on the advice of people they like, and trust. 

Unfortunately, a lot of sales people sabotage their chances of success from the beginning of an interaction with a customer, simply because they don’t devote enough time to rapport. Driven by a constant need to close deals, many professionals overlook the importance of rapport in sales. 

However, when they don’t build rapport, sales reps also need to work harder to handle objections, create trust, and increase conversions. Here’s what you need to know about building rapport with customers throughout the sales process. 

What is Rapport in Sales?

Rapport is simply the term used to refer to a friendly, harmonious relationship between two or more people. It’s defined by a level of mutual understanding, respect, and empathy, which allows individuals to communicate more effectively. 

In the sales landscape, rapport is how you connect with customers throughout an effective sales process, building a foundation for powerful communication. It’s how you convince prospects and customers to trust your opinion, value your input, and respond to your suggestions. 

A sales rep can use multiple methods to establish rapport, depending on how they interact with potential leads. In a face-to-face setting, professionals use body language alongside excellent communication skills to develop human connections. In the remote world, where conversations happen through a sales call, social media message, or email, the process commonly involves asking questions, listening actively to customers, and responding strategically to concerns. 

Building Rapport in Sales: 4 Effective Strategies

Sales reps can spend years mastering the process of building rapport with customers. The more you learn about your audience, the language they use, and the issues they need to overcome, the more empathy and compassion you can show during sales discussions.

However, there are some tried-and-tested methods, recommended by our own sales experts, that consistently drive positive results:

Step 1: Actively Listen and Show Interest 

The first, and perhaps most important way to start building rapport in sales, is to listen to your customers, and pay attention to their needs and pain points. Customers today don’t want to deal with pushy salespeople, fighting to increase their performance metrics. They want to speak to people who can actually help them solve their problems. 

If you don’t listen to your customer, you can’t convince them that you understand their needs, and respond to their concerns with personalized insights. 

Active listening is easier than it seems. Simple steps such as echoing what your customers says back to them can help to build mutual understanding. For instance, if a customer says, “We’re really struggling with customer retention”. You can say, “I’m hearing you have issues with customer churn, that’s a big problem for a lot of our clients.” 

Asking follow-up questions is useful too. It helps you to understand your customer’s pain points and concerns more completely, and tells customers you have a genuine interest in what they have to say. Simple questions like “Can you tell me more about…” or “How has that affected you”, can keep the conversation going. 

Step 2: Boost your Customer’s Confidence

A common mistake new salespeople make is attempting to consistently boost confidence in their products or services, without focusing on increasing the customer’s confidence directly. Studies show customers confident in their decision-making abilities are 2.6 times more likely to buy something. 

If your customer believes they’re making the right choice with you, they’re far less likely to have numerous objections when it comes to buying your products. You can start instilling confidence from the very beginning of the buyer journey when you first make contact with your lead. 

Using the information you gathered during the prospecting and research stage of the sales process, provide your customers with resources that can help them answer any questions they might have. For instance, you could send videos showcasing your products to your customers, or provide them with case studies they can use to quantify the results of your solution. 

It helps to actively encourage your customers to ask questions throughout a sales call or conversation too. This allows you to act as a trusted advisor for your customer, providing insightful information based on their specific needs. Ask your customers if they have any concerns, then look for ways to respond to those issues with data, content, and social proof. 

Step 3: Personalize the Sales Process

Learning how to build rapport in sales relies heavily on your ability to customize each interaction you have with a new lead. Although many sales teams use scripts to guide them, you shouldn’t be just issuing the same pitch to every client. Every buyer has their own unique pain points, needs, and challenges. So, think about how you can adapt the conversation to your customer. 

If you’ve spent some time actively listening to your customer, and researching their needs, you should have a good idea of what their priorities are. With this in mind, adjust your sales strategy to focus on the benefits your product or solution can deliver to each specific customer. 

Another option is to actively ask your customer what you can do to help them make a purchasing decision. Ask them what they need most from you, whether it’s a free demo, and opportunity to read reviews, or a step-by-step guide to how the product works. 

Don’t underestimate the power of little steps too, such as calling your customer by their preferred name in every interaction. 

Step 4: Find Common Ground

People are more likely to enjoy speaking to other individuals who have similar interests, or experiences to them. Uncovering genuine “common ground” can be an excellent way to start building rapport in sales. When you’re doing your research into your customers, pay attention to whether you have characteristics in common.

They may have lived in the same city as you at one point, went to the same school, have shared connections, or they may enjoy the same hobbies, sports, or TV shows. Drawing attention to these commonalities can help you to build a stronger connection. 

For instance, if you know your prospect is a big golfing fan, you could mention a tournament that’s happening this weekend, or discuss their favorite courses. Although this might seem like pointless small talk when you’re keen to make a sale, bonding over shared interests can lead to far more powerful relationships with your potential leads. 

Unlocking the Power of Rapport

Building rapport isn’t about following a script or step-by-step relationship-building instructions. Ultimately, being able to connect with customers on an emotional level is a process that takes time and effort. It can be difficult to stop focusing entirely on making a sale, and start putting your customer at the front and center of each conversation. 

The good news is the more time you spend interacting with prospects and customers, actively listening to their needs, and responding with empathy, the more effective you’ll become. 

Don’t underestimate the power of rapport, it’s any sales teams ultimate weapon or closing deals, and retaining customers. 

Build rapport by working side-by-side with some of the best coaches in sales today. Sign up for HardSkillExchange! 

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